17 Jul Crossing Borders: An Immigrant’s Legal Internship In Spain
My name is Alexandra Sandoval Flores, and I’m a Mexican immigrant who moved to the U.S. as a child to obtain a better education. I’m currently a junior studying at the University of Texas at Austin, double majoring in Psychology (B.A.) and Sociology, with a minor in Portuguese. I’m currently on the pre-law track, aiming to become an immigration lawyer. Where? When? I have no clue after this legal internship experience.
As an immigrant, my dream is to become a lawyer to help others establish their dreams of moving to another country for a better quality of life, and I was so set on going straight to law school in the U.S. right after I graduate from undergrad. Now? I’m not so sure.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of visiting Barcelona and Madrid in Spain. Little did I know I was actually going to fulfill that dream. One night during my Fall 2022 semester, I was going through UT’s abroad programs page, and I stumbled upon Absolute Internship. I immediately applied for the program, knowing that I’d want to intern in Spain, desirably in the legal field. I got exactly what I wanted, if not, much more.
During my time abroad, I was given the opportunity to work for an amazing legal company called Lexidy Law Boutique. The legal world is known for its lack of incorporating technology into the system, yet Lexidy is 10 steps ahead, with its utilization of CRM tools to lead their clients into desirable outcomes.
Lexidy has 7 offices all throughout Europe, and more to come, which provides advantages because you get to collaborate and connect with people from all over the world. Although I interned with them for 4 weeks, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit their Lisbon office and meet more colleagues!
“The working environment was how I was able to strengthen so many skills”
I got to go to Portugal for a weekend and explore the beautiful city of Lisbon as well as see how different Portuguese laws differed from Spanish laws. Something that really stood out to me about Lexidy aside from their tech advancement was their working environment. The working environment was how I was able to strengthen so many skills because of how comfortable I felt with everyone.
Each day at Lexidy was like sipping my matcha tea latte for the first time and saying “I’m in love.” Spanish culture is so similar to Mexican culture in the way that they greet everyone like family no matter what, and I loved that about my colleagues. I was always greeted with warmth and kindness, and if I ever found myself struggling with a task, my superiors would take some time out of their day to help me, without hesitation.
One of my favorite parts of the job was getting to work with HubSpot, a CRM tool that revolutionizes the way law firms work. I went in unfamiliar with it, and came out with so many useful skills that I can apply anywhere I go. Aside from the CRM tool, I loved getting to accompany clients to their appointments because of how life-changing this process is. I loved being able to help them receive their Spanish visas and making sure that their needs were being met and satisfied. It was very interesting getting to see how different immigration laws are in European countries compared to the U.S.
After this legal internship, I was so blown away that I worked at an international law firm under the sector that I want to focus on as a future Latina lawyer. It was amazing because it really inspired me to take a step back and think about the endless possibilities that I have because of this opportunity. My company also wants me to come back next summer, which I definitely want to, and for a much longer time because I felt like there is still so much to learn. I was also able to establish a lot of good friendships with the people I met in my program, and I look forward to keeping in touch. I was also able to integrate myself in Spanish culture as a Mexican and Latina, which was a bit of a culture shock, given how different our cultures are from each other.
Now, I have always been the type of person to have a set plan going into undergrad. I was going to graduate with a bachelor of arts in Psychology and Sociology and then go straight into law school as a 22 year old. But seeing as how the lawyers over there are, and how much I enjoyed traveling the world at such a young age, I’m not sure that that’s what I want anymore. If you come from a background of not having enough money to travel the world, then I think you’ll find yourself questioning everything, just like I did.
“I was so blown away that I worked at an international law firm under the sector that I want to focus on as a future Latina lawyer”
Working for such an amazing company, and an international one too, really opens your eyes to the possibilities that you never imagined before. I mean think about it, you aren’t used to traveling, and once you do that for 4 weeks or more, on top of an internship abroad, it really does make you want more. All I want to do is find a way to still fulfill my dreams of being a lawyer while also traveling as much as I can. But frankly, that will be difficult given the commitment it takes to be a lawyer, and I think that taking a gap year can really help me balance that out. Sure, it’s not a long-term thing, but at the same time, that gap year will allow me to live life to the fullest while gaining more experience and knowledge in and of the real world after undergrad before fully committing to law school and the life of a lawyer in the U.S. And even then, I’m not so sure if I want to be a lawyer in the U.S. … maybe in another country?
So, if you’re like me, and have never traveled in your life before, do whatever you can to stay for more than 4 weeks. My only regret was not having enough money to stay longer, otherwise I would have. Not only will you get more internship experience, but you will also be able to cherish the beautiful landscapes and culture that your destination has. You will fall in love with the city, and hopefully, with your internship.
I also recommend applying early so that you have the best chance of getting an internship in your desired field, as well as the company. I know sometimes we get homesick, but you are only so young once, and going abroad to get international experience in the professional world for a longer set of time makes all the difference, and it’s only an experience that you will get once. Be open to the possibilities of trying new things.