International legal life in lockdown: Spain

Andrea Accuosto Suárez, an advocate at SN Abogados in Barcelona, talks to us about her experiences of working life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrea Accuosto Suárez“My work has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Andrea. “The first two weeks were very difficult in the Spanish legal sector, there was a sense of paralysis. Thankfully now things have moved on and the sector has grown used to operating under the conditions imposed by the pandemic.”

In Spain all the Courts of Justice were closed from 14 March until 4 June 2020 except for determined urgent cases.

While complying with some of the strictest lockdown rules anywhere in Europe, Andrea says that routine has been key to her ability to remaining resilient in these trying times:

“I’m staying busy to keep my mind healthy. If you don’t just continue trying to operate as normally as possible then you can let the negatives of the situation get the better of you. If I find I don’t have work then I create engagements and I find opportunities to write articles or learn something about a particular discipline I’m interested in.”

“Of course, I’m here with my family, so that can make things interesting at times… my husband is an opera singer so I have to manage that when I’m making business calls! But I think in general there have been some positives to the situation, with more time for exercise and greater ability to spend time with my family.”

On the other hand, Andrea is concerned about the unequal situation that teleworking from home as well as the closure of schools has created for thousands of women all around the world.

“Most of the social and individual paid and unpaid 'caring duties' that have appeared as even more fundamental than ever during the pandemic are carried out by women and this is still unrecognised and underpaid work,” she said. "The current situation itself is uncertain for everyone of course and this worries me, as do the possible future economic impact of the lockdown.”

While the sociological implications of the pandemic, as well as issues of poor internet connectivity, can pose problems for others, Andrea remains positive about the opportunities working from home represents.

“In many ways using video calling technology is more efficient than in-person working since you can attend multiple conferences and seminars in a day, all around the world. You can interact with people and learn from people who you would never normally meet.”

For those still under lockdown conditions, Andrea has three top tips:

“My number one piece of advice is to keep on working as much as you can; if you are productive you will feel better about the situation."

"Secondly, always keep to some sort of a routine, this can help to increase motivation and productivity."

"Lastly, make sure you make space for sharing time with your family; this is very important as it very positively affects your mental wellbeing.”

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