Artigo 14, a legal cooperative that shows people another way
10 April 2017
Cooperating, working together, taking on projects with friends, and joining forces is a great option. It certainly has been for three members of a Galician legal cooperative, Artigo 14, and for many other cooperatives for young people, who have chosen the business model to start businesses and escape precarious employment.
An article by COCETA
“We haven’t been going long but we’ve got work. We’re capitalising at the moment, but we hope to be giving ourselves a salary agreement a year from now”, explains Julia Alvarez Martin, one of the three cooperative members. The cooperative is made up of two women and a man, aged between 29 and 30. They started the business after finishing a Master’s course the year before. Julia was working for herself and her two colleagues were working in offices where they were paid close to an internship salary. “They take advantage of the notion of internships” added Julia. “It’s very rare to get a contract in the legal profession. They tell you you’re being taught. You don’t press for rights”.
The intention of the cooperative is to grow. They are inspired by cooperative models of legal practice which have grown over the years, such as the Colectivo Ronda in Barcelona.
“We are a cooperative that works for people”, added Julia. When people visit, we don’t want them to see us as a gloomy lawyers’ office.
Artigo 14 is the first legal cooperative in Galicia. “You don’t learn about legal structures in the legal world. When you finish your Master’s they teach you the traditional social formulas but not about cooperatives – which are associated with the farming world. We wanted to work together, and cooperatively. It seemed closest to our way of thinking”.
The legal structure has helped them a lot. “Firstly, the way of working”, added Julia. “We are specialists, but we always discuss our colleagues’ cases. We are in Santiago and A Coruña, and this makes us much stronger. There are more of us, we can get to more places. We can also share and give each other mutual support. We always have our own and our colleagues’ issues in mind. And the formula differentiates us from other practices. It gives us greater visibility”.
Part of this visibility is being a member of a worker cooperatives’ network, Espazocoop in Galicia, the cooperatives union that forms part of COCETA (the Spanish Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, in English).
Another matter the cooperative is clear on is that their profession is there to help others. For that reason they are also duty solicitors. “We believe in this a lot. We think it’s badly paid and is a lot of work because the Council makes it so: there is a lot of bureaucracy, but we have to do it. It guarantees equal justice for all.”
Artigo 14 is one of many young peoples’ cooperatives in Spain which are trying to find alternative routes to combat precarious work and unemployment. A COCETA campaign is publicising cooperativism for young people – read more at the following link. http://empleojoven.coceta.coop/
COCETA’s idea is to show young people that there are alternatives. To do so, they have made the website and a series of promotional videos, which have been spread through social networks, and other materials and publicity spots on rock music radio stations, as well as other channels to reach young people.