Anna Viñals: “The double degree in Law and Humanities opens up far more doors than you could imagine”

01/06/18
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The first double-degree graduate will start working at one of the most important law firms in the country and will focus on international arbitration and the organisation of an art symposium.

Anna Viñals describes herself as an inquisitive but also a reflective person, who finds release in debate and sports. An unusual pairing which she has also successfully applied to her studies, becoming the first double graduate in Law and Humanities at UIC Barcelona.  She is now embarking on a new challenge at one of the most important law firms in Spain, where she will build on both her legal and humanist basis.  

Law and Humanities is an unusual combination. Why did you decide to follow this pathway at UIC Barcelona?
I had always thought about doing something related to Humanities, regardless of whether this was philosophy or history. Right from a young age I was interested in culture, meaning that rather than doing a solely professional degree, I also wanted to further develop my humanist side.

In which ways do you think that both degrees complement each other?
It’s certainly true that you can’t compare company law with Greek philosophy, but for me they complement each other in that Law has been the order of things since Roman times and has always gone hand in hand with humanities and history.

A perfect tandem then...
Yes, Law responds to human beings’ need to organise society. For me, Law is the solution which gives this humanist approach. It’s a way to understand the world - who we are and how we are.  In some respects, each degree complements the other one. 

In times where digital transformation is the object of academic and job-related concerns, why do you think it is important to have a humanist outlook?
It is very important and we can in fact take the United States as a reference. There, regardless of whether you study Law, Engineering or Biomedical Sciences, the first year of university is almost always devoted entirely to the arts, the humanities and social issues. This shows that there are countries which give priority to human aspects regardless of whether you’re studying a technological degree. I’m not saying that we should follow this model, but we could certainly take on its humanist ideals. We need to push the boundaries. 

How exactly would you define humanism?
For me, humanism is understanding where we come from, where we are going and,  most especially, understanding the whys and hows of life, history, art and people who express themselves through cinema or poetry. At the end of the day, it is understanding the essence of being human.

And how would you define the degree in Humanities?
It is something cross- and interdisciplinary which provides you with everything I have just mentioned. 

How have you managed to balance your double academic life with your private life?
Just like everyone else. You shouldn’t leave everything to the last month and, in my case, I have been doing something every day. But apart from that, I have had a social life (laughs). I have taken part in debates since year two of my degree and in different sports. With a bit of organisation, anything is possible. 

Once you have finished your double degree, which professional profile do your studies open up to you?
I think it’s a very international profile. UIC Barcelona makes you see things from an international and diplomatic relations perspective... Let’s just say that the Humanities degree here enhances that profile. 

So do you appreciate the fact that at UIC Barcelona you have the opportunity to study in universities like Iona College or Berkeley?
I think it’s important to do this. As part of my Law degree, I spent a summer studying optional subjects at Berkeley. You have the chance to do this either at Berkeley or at Iona College, and I think it is really necessary because, in the end, you are supplementing your double degree with an international profile. UIC Barcelona is ultimately a university with an outward-looking focus.  

Now you are starting a job at one of the most important law firms in Spain and you will be working in the area of law and art. What does this involve?
My role in one of the projects I will be in charge of, will involve organising an art symposium which will take place in October and I will have organisational duties. It will be like setting up a mini museum. 

So, can the cultural aspect of Humanities be developed in a law firm?
Yes. We had subjects on museum studies and I remember thinking to myself at the time: “What use are they going to be to me?” Well, they have been useful in helping me get a job at a law firm and, in addition to doing international arbitration, I will organise an art symposium. If you haven’t studied Humanities, of course you can learn on the job, but studying it at university provides you with a foundation which is very much valued in a law firm. 

How do you see your future?
I would like to go to the US. I’m now going to do a master’s degree in Spanish and international legal practice which will allow me to work in Spain and also have an international component. However, in a few years’ time I would like to go to the US and do a master’s to enter the legal profession in order to be able to work there.

Would you recommend the double degree?
Without a doubt. I’m not saying it’s easy because it isn’t and there are many times where you think: “I don’t see why we’re doing this...” It’s five pretty tough years with up to 13 subjects in my last term, but I would definitely recommend it. 

What would you say to anyone who is unsure about their university studies?
I would say that there are a lot of people studying Business Administration and Law, but there are few people doing Law with Humanities, so much so that when you start at a law firm or a company people ask “Why did you study that double degree?” or “Where did you do that? I’ve never heard of it before...” UIC Barcelona has gone for something very innovative which I think opens up far more many doors than those you could imagine in your last year of school. It’s something that really makes you stand out.