What is the difference between a Solicitor and an Abogado?

If you have done your research on Spanish lawyers, you will have probably come across the word “abogado”.  The said word, as you know by now, does not refer to an exotic green fruit but to the name used by lawyers all around Spain.

An “abogado” is basically a lawyer. If that is the case, how come that many lawyers in Spain call themselves solicitors.? Well, most of them use the term “solicitor” wrongly as a solicitor is a lawyer regulated in the UK. Whether this is in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, a solicitor is a professional person qualified to practise law in those jurisdictions and regulated by their professional law societies.

Many Spanish lawyers dealing with British clients are aware that the word “solicitor” brings confidence and familiarity to the minds of their clients and therefore very often call themselves solicitors when they are not regulated as such. If they had to use an anglicised term to translate “abogado” into English, the correct word would be “lawyer”, which is a more general term. I am sure that most of them used the word “solicitor” with no bad intention, however it could prove unwillingly misleading for UK clients looking for a solicitor regulated in their country.

Having said that, there are some properly registered solicitors practising in Spain who are regulated in the UK.  In fact, this is something you can check when speaking with the said solicitor. It is just a matter of asking the person for his registration number and the professional body with which he is registered ( In England and Wales, it would be the Solicitors Regulation Authority). By doing this you will be able to differentiate who is really a solicitor from who isn´t.  Don´t get me wrong. There are plenty of good lawyers in Spain who are not solicitors but if, for your peace of mind, you are looking to engage the services of a solicitor regulated in your own country and able to advise on Spanish law, then the above precaution will allow you to choose him or her.

Antonio Guillen is a dual qualified Spanish lawyer (abogado) & Solicitor regulated by the Barcelona Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (England and Wales)

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