ABOWI – Across Borders With Information – In a conversation with international lawyer Veronica Tejada Lacayo based in Miami, Florida – by Josefine Antonia Schulte, stud. jur. from Berlin, Germany.
Today I am virtually traveling to Miami, Florida with the ABOWI Project, standing for Across Borders with Information interviewing one of Miamis lawyers Veronica Tejada Lacayo. A city is best known for its beautiful beaches and as a travel hub between the US and Latin America. This hub makes it very interesting for my international journey for knowledge, overcoming prejudices. A project born in the times of a pandemic forcing the world to stop spinning and the people traveling. As a German law student, I want to visit 197 countries of the world and at least interview one of their lawyers. I want to know about their experiences daily and with globalization. What connects lawyers worldwide and what still separates them?
There aren’t many country’s in the world as diverse and multilayered as the United States of America
From the climate zones going from extreme cold in Alaska to all-year warmth in Florida, it is the cultural plurality that makes the US so special. No wonder as a traditional state of immigration, there was always motion the US. Thus due to the system of federalism, even from the perspective of laws, the US is multifaceted.
The diversity of the US is not all centralized in Miami and cannot cover it but it is a place to start my journey through the United States of America.
Author and founder of the Tejada Lacayo Attorneys, Lacayo has studied law in Bolivia, Texas, and Miami. In Miami speak about 60 percent of the population Spanish, an advantage on the international, Latin American characterized market Miamis.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: Please introduce yourself shortly in terms of name, age, origin and how long you have been practicing the profession of law?
Veronica Lacayo: My name is Veronica Lacayo, I am 41 years old and I was born in Bolivia. I have been practicing law since 2004.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: What made you become a lawyer in the first place?
Veronica Lacayo: I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people solve their problems and because I think it is a fun and exciting career.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: What is your expertise?
Veronica Lacayo: I handled commercial litigations and real estate transactions
Josefine Antonia Schulte: How is the social recognition of a career in law in the USA? (E.g. in Germany the societal recognition is quite high especially for people without any contact points with lawyers. There is certainly a stereotype of the superior and rich lawyer.)
Veronica Lacayo: In the United States lawyers are esteemed and held in high regard. Of course, people who have had a bad experience with an attorney or litigation will disagree but in general, lawyers are well respected in the USA.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: What is the societal sense of justice in Florida?
Veronica Lacayo: Most people believe that they can get justice through the court system but the high costs of litigation make it for difficult for those with limited resources to have the same access as those with resources. Having said, that there are several organizations that provide legal assistance to the needy and the Florida Bar encourages attorneys to do pro bono hours to help our communities..
Josefine Antonia Schulte: What challenges as a lawyer are you facing on a day-to-day basis?
Veronica Lacayo: The high costs of the legal system represent a challenge for me. I would like to help more people but it is not always economically feasible for them or me when the recovery that is sought does not meet a basic threshold.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: You are a lawyer in Florida but at the same time you live in a globalized world. But how is the cooperation with lawyers and clients outside of Florida?
Veronica Lacayo: Technology has made this world smaller. With the use of zoom, WhatsApp, and email it is virtually the same to communicate with someone on the other side of the world as with another attorney in town.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: During my research, I saw that you speak English and Spanish. How does that come and how does it influence your work as a lawyer?
Veronica Lacayo: Miami is an international city. There is a significant number of people who don’t speak English or whose English is limited. Speaking Spanish helps me to attract them as clients and to better understand whatever it is that they want to communicate.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: How internationally well-positioned are lawyers in your country in terms of adapting to the language needs of international clients?
Veronica Lacayo: Most people in the world speak English so American lawyers usually have no difficulty communicating with others. Having said that, diversity is encouraged in the legal profession and every day there are more and more U.S. attorneys who speak two or more languages.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: What is the level of demand of international cases and clients in your experience?
Veronica Lacayo: There is a large demand in Florida, especially with clients dealing with Latin America.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: As your international client, what sort of legal advice is highly requested?
Veronica Lacayo: International clients usually want to understand what are the requirements to sue in Florida, how the legal fees are structures and how foreign judgments can be enforced in the United States.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: From your experience, how sensible is the decision for a career in law? Would you make the same decision?
Veronica Lacayo: I think that if I had the choice I would probably study law again. It is a very flexible career that allows attorneys to transition into different fields if they should choose to do so.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: What advice would you give to a law student or those, who are interested in it?
Veronica Lacayo: It is not an easy career. Law is very demanding and challenging but if it is what they like, they should pursue it.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: From your experience, what has to be done to bring lawyers globally together? Or is it unnecessary in your opinion?
Veronica Lacayo: International conferences help lawyers from different parts of the world come together. These conferences are necessary as legal matters more often than not cross international boundaries and attorneys who need to understand not only the laws but also the culture of the foreign country that is involved in the dispute.
Josefine Antonia Schulte: How do you assess the global market in the future, in Germany you need to specialize to a specific area of law at some point in university, do you believe it is useful and sensible to specialize in international law?
Veronica Lacayo: It is a good idea to specialize in international law. However, in the United States, such specialization is not required and not needed. Many international lawyers learned about this area of the law while working under the supervision of knowledgeable partners.
I thank my interview partner Veronica Tejada Lacayo for the open and interesting conversation. The economical feasibility of helping clients with a lower amount in dispute is a struggle I have heard from many lawyers. Difficult from the client’s perspective as their seen injustice is not worth enough to be discussed due to the high cost of court proceedings. Frustrating from a lawyer’s perspective whose philosophy is to help as many people as possible to solve their problems.
In terms of globalization, the digitalization of communication has changed the market. One boost of the use of technology in the historically largely paper-based area of law was probably the Covid-19 pandemic.
„For simplicity, the masculine form is used throughout the text; the […] feminine form is of course included.“
stud. iur. Josefine Antonia Schulte
Across Borders With Information – ABOWI, an interview series by Josefine Schulte law student from Berlin in Germany. Questions and Answers: A journey around the world revealing differences and prejudices. What moves the lawyers of this earth, Josefine Schulte asks herself from Azerbaijan to Cyprus.