From Law to Mediation. Member Spotlight: Ignacio González Martínez

Ignacio is a lawyer and mediator based in Spain. He also works at a nonprofit organization that provides international volunteer opportunities to youth, mainly in the EU, but also to the United States. He received his law degree from Complutense University of Madrid and has been a member of MBBI since March 2021. Ignacio first heard about MBBI by chance while researching international associations for mediators. He joined in order to engage with international networks and further develop connections with others in the field.  

Entering the Mediation Field

Ignacio first began his work as a mediator after being disenchanted with the legal field. He’d pursued law because he had a strong sense of justice, but when he began working in legal courts, he felt as though he was spending an excessive amount of time and energy in seeking results for his clients that had nothing to do with justice. “I realized that the verdict had nothing to do with the reality and the frustration I felt was so big. Instead of having court, we should just have artificial intelligence that would have a machine determine who’s right and wrong.” Through mediation, he found it most fulfilling to develop strategies to help people agree and trust each other. He says the legislation system in Spain is beginning to recognize the tool of mediation and is now including it as an obligation for individuals before going to court. Municipalities are creating pools of mediators to serve this purpose, but they are often required to work for free. Ignacio believes it will take another couple of decades before the system improves and is able to compensate mediators for their efforts. 

He also notes that many of his experiences in mediation in Spain is mainly influenced by Mediterranean culture. “We have a problem of a lack of cultural experience in mediation. It’s spoken about as a bit of a joke.” However, he believes that as time goes on, different cultures around the world are merging and it is changing the course of mediation as well. “Someone from New York probably has the same values as someone from London, Berlin, and Barcelona. We’re becoming more civilized and avoiding violence.” He is optimistic about the future of mediation and peace at large in the world. 

Diverse Professional Experiences

For a brief time in his career, Ignacio served as the elected mayor of a small town near Madrid. During his time in office, there was a local mafia that was closely associated with the conservative political party who attempted to remove him from office by leveraging the politics around local water. As a result, Ignacio used his skills as a politician and lawyer to take three cases to court and one reached the ECtHR. Although Ignacio believes the human rights violations were evident, the court didn’t rule in his favor. He identifies this as one of the moments that reinforced his jaded perspective towards the legal field.

One of his proudest achievements, however, has been his ability to build up a nonprofit organization that supports youth experiences internationally. They engage one thousand youngsters each year around Europe to participate in physical volunteering experiences that often involve community improvement activities, but are also able to attend peace education trainings. The Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organizations is the umbrella international organization that partners with Volunteers for Peace for activities in the United States. He insists it’s a very grassroots level organization and has dedicated much time and financial support to its development. “It was hard, but now I’m a father, and it’s harder to be a father.”

A Piece of Advice

Reflecting upon his life, he wishes he’d been less naïve in his approach to his work. “If you want to be a good professional, you have to have a critical point of view. Don’t follow your enthusiasm too much when it’s unrealistic.” 

Article by Chloe Pan, MBBI Writer