The Aptíssimi Awards are the highest-profile awards in the Spanish business law sector to recognise outstanding professional careers, the best corporate counsel, contributions to the industry and to society, and professional development in the legal sector on the part of Esade alumni. They provide an occasion to recognise responsibility and professionalism in the legal sector, while also promoting community involvement.
In October, the Esade Alumni Law Club had the pleasure of holding the Aptíssimi Business Law Awards in person at the Llotja de Mar in Barcelona. The award ceremony, which followed rigorous COVID-19 safety measures, brought together more than 200 representatives of top law firms and in-house corporate legal teams, as well as members of government bodies related to the world of law, government lawyers, registrars and other high-profile professionals from the legal world.
This year, the Aptíssimi Awards – whose name derives from the Latin for “the fittest” – were presented by Raimon Tagliavini (Lic&MD ‘01 / MBA ‘09), president of the Esade Alumni Law Club, and Lara Vivas (Lic&MD ‘02), board member of the Esade Alumni Law Club. This year’s winners were Victoria Ortega, chair of the General Council of Spanish Bar Associations; Telefónica Spain; the International Bar Association, the world’s foremost membership organisation for international legal practitioners; and Mireia Sabaté, a partner in labour law at Baker McKenzie.
The award for outstanding professional career went to Victoria Ortega, chair of the General Council of Spanish Bar Associations. The panel of judges praised Victoria for her long career as a jurist in business law, especially in the fields of procedural and administrative law. The award recognised not only her successful practice as a lawyer, but also her outstanding academic career. Also worthy of note were Victoria’s professional achievements as a pioneering woman in positions of responsibility in the representative and coordinating bodies of the legal profession. On receiving the award, she expressed satisfaction at being able to do what she loves: work in the world of law, the greatest instrument for achieving coexistence and progress. “The practice of defence, from a position of proximity to society and knowledge of its concerns, is the greatest engine for social and economic progress, the instrument for defending rights and freedoms, for making the world slightly more habitable,” she declared.
This year’s award for best corporate counsel went to Telefónica Spain. The judges were impressed by the dynamism exhibited by this “sophisticated, highly digitalised corporate counsel, which has a strong presence as a strategic partner of the company and is committed to providing business-savvy advice”. After accepting the award, María Cermeño, Director of Legal Services at Telefónica Spain, highlighted the company’s ongoing transformation and noted that the award represents a boon to her team: “It will be a magnificent incentive to keep improving.”
The International Bar Association (IBA), the world’s foremost membership organisation for international legal practitioners – comprising more than 80,000 individual lawyers from the world’s top law firms and some 190 bar associations and law societies from more than 170 countries – received an award for its contribution to the sector and to society. Of the IBA’s many merits, the judges were particularly impressed with its “leading role in the worldwide development of the profession and its values since its foundation more than 70 years ago, with particular emphasis on the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and the administration of justice”. Almudena Arpón de Mendívil, vice president of the IBA, accepted the award and noted that it is important because it comes from a prestigious academic institution like Esade, whose motto – Do Good, Do Better – expresses its commitment to society. “The IBA is great because of its actions,” she observed. “It is an organisation born of the conviction that the collective can make great contributions to peace, growth and the rule of law, knowing that business law has a fundamental role to play in this context.”
The Insignis Alumni Award went to Mireia Sabaté (Lic&MD ‘01), a partner in employment law at Baker McKenzie. This award recognises alumni of Esade Law School programmes who have achieved great stature in their careers, whether in the legal, academic, cultural, business or social spheres. The factors of particular interest to the judges included “successful professional career, recognitions received, broad prestige gained in the legal sector and consolidated academic activity”. Although this past year has been difficult, for Mireia it has also been a year of challenges and happiness. “I am proud to have been made an international partner after 20 years at Baker McKenzie. Besides hard work and luck, I have always thought that the key to success was to surround yourself with good people and good things. In my case, this means family, friends and Esade.”
In her closing remarks, Esade Alumni President Maite Barrera (Lic&MBA ‘98) highlighted the abundance of women among this year’s winners and appealed to the responsibility of the sector: “We cannot forget everything that has happened to us this year. We are living through one of the most pivotal moments in our history. We will be remembered for how we responded to COVID-19 and we must be ambitious. This is not a time to recover the world we once had. We have an opportunity to create a better, more humane, more sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and fairer world. We have to consider other fundamental levels beyond economic measures. We need to think about responsible capitalism and, as jurists, we have a central role to play to this change. Together, let us strengthen this transformative action.”