Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

"Against the wall yes, but I'm not the kamikazea, if I couldn't work."

  • He met public opinion when he was president of Euskaltzaleen Topagunea. It also works in the media. “Elena Laka. Elena. Elenalaka. Elé. Helen. Mother. Lawyer. Laka anderea. That is what I answer. I give birth there,” he said in his presentation.
Argazkia: Zaldi Ero / ARGIA CC BY-SA
Argazkia: Zaldi Ero / ARGIA CC BY-SA
Elena Laka Muñoz. Eibar, 1966

Vascophilous lawyer. He studied law in the faculty of the UPV/EHU in San Sebastian and has his office in Eibar. Member of the Eta Kitto Association of Bergara and president of Euskaltzaleen Topagunea between 2014 and 2018. He has collaborated in various media, both in writing and at work as an interlocutor. He currently participates in Faktoria de Euskadi Irratia. In 2016 he held the first trial in Basque in Eibar. Tap the organ with a hobby.

He has just read the book of Jasone Osoro Garaipen (Elkar, 2023). In that book, Harkaitz Cano says he studied Law for absurd pride...
My case has nothing to do with that of Harkaitz Cano. Harkaitz is, among others, the next decade. I was born in 1966. Harkaitz Cano says in this book that, if I am not mistaken, his father was a lawyer and his mother teacher. In my case my father was a torner and my mother was a housewife who always trabajaba.Soy the first person in our family who has gone to college. My parents saw that I was a good student, that I also had to study college, and I got into the head that I had to do law, not really knowing what it was. I wanted to study and I had the impulse of the family.

What led him to study law?
I don't know! For example, I didn't know any lawyers. I was born in the working-class neighborhood in Urki, where there was neither a lawyer nor a university. Why the law? I don't know. Or movies, or books, or I don't know what it was, but I always had in mind studying lawyer and learned and liked it. Nothing else.

You put yourself in your hometown in Eibar, and you've been working for over 30 years...
In January 1992 I graduated, started working in February... 32 years!

...and at the time of starting work, among friends, you distributed the lawyer card in search of clients.
Yes. In these 30 years, things have changed a lot. So there were no social or similar networks to make themselves known, but I had to make myself known, and I tried it among friends and acquaintances. The initial clients were all from the area. It was very difficult, or now we find it difficult, because we're not 24 years old. At that time it seemed natural to me. Now I think I have experience. “Oh, mom! But what happened then?” But if you don't do it when you're young, when are you going to do it?

"Me to the prosecutor. ‘Good morning.’ And he: ‘Good morning!’ I, ‘Egun on!’ instead, and she, harder, ‘Good morning!’. That’s what we live.”

The computer also has a history, as it usually tells.
Then no one had a computer between the Eibar lawyers and we surrounded a little second-hand Macintosh. It cost us 114,000 pesetas. Money! And so we started. Seen from today it seems that we were brave, but then we were not going to think, we were not brave. We thought we had to, and we did. I worked in San Sebastian, I was an official at the city hall there, but I left him to be a lawyer. It seemed natural to me. “I am 26 years old, if I stay here working, what will my life be?” Most certainly, I would have a very comfortable life, but I didn't see myself in that and I left the position. That was the case.

Photo: Crazy Horse / LUZ CC BY-SA

No one is a prophet in his land. Instead, you chose to return to your home country.
I found it easier to start working in Eibar, because I had a network in the village. I opened the office with another friend, but if I had had someone who guided me in my way, someone who opened the way to me… I would do it differently. But I had no one, nothing, just what I saw around me. I mean, I now see our children, and I think we can give them advice, or consult with some of our friends or acquaintances. But in our time, we didn't have that network.

There would be another lawyer in
Eibar… Yes, there were other offices. In our time, when we started college, the university was called a “unemployed factory.” There was huge unemployment, and everyone had to look for the job where we could. Some of us started opening our offices, unlike now, because now few young lawyers open their law firm, they prefer to work in nobody's big office. I, on the other hand, find it easier to put each one of their offices, especially today, because social networks are also there. Young lawyers do not take that path. It is true, however, that we took this path, because we had no more.

He studied law in Donostia… Were there lines in Basque?
Noooo! Kar-kar… Don’t think! We had over twenty subjects throughout the course and had one in Basque, Economics, Professor Baleren Bakaikoa. And the practices of administrative law - very small thing - we also had them in Basque. Iñaki Agirreazkuenaga was our professor. Even today, before Christmas, I taught a class in Basque in the Master’s degree in law, and after I taught a class, Iñaki Agirreazkuenaga’s turn! “He was my teacher,” I said. And he: “30 years ago?” “More!” Kar-kar… The practices of economics and administrative law, we simply learned Basque.

"I would say that the Basque country has improved in Eibar, has gained mass"

What was your atmosphere in Eibar?In Eibar
everything was in Spanish. At least in our environment. In our neighborhood, few spoke in Basque. But his father is very vasquist. He was born in Deba and came to work in Eibar. We were not introduced by Euskera, he naturally transmitted the Basque. He never told us: “Euskaraz!” No. He has always done us in Basque. He likes to talk about politics, talk about social issues, participate in groups of each other… and always speaks Basque in all groups, and about all issues, always in Basque, and that is what he has conveyed to us. And the mother has understood it, and at home we have always talked in Basque and Spanish.

At home in Basque and Spanish, because the mother did not know Basque…
She doesn’t know!

He doesn't know.

My mother didn't, my father did...
Look, when we started ikastola, in 1970, they didn't even give the student's schooling books. “These children are going to start the ikastola!” said my father, my brother and I meant. And our mothers in Spanish: “To ikastola? If you know Basque!” Our father is in a nutshell and said: “But it’s not the same.” And to the ikastola! But I told you, my mother knows nothing in Basque, except words like “the dog”, “love”… And yet, she is very proud that we are Basques.

Although you learn Spanish law, you do it in Basque, when you can…
But my
work is in Spanish, most of them. When the customer comes we always offer the service in Basque. I am Euskaldun and Euskaltzale, and we always give the customer the first word in Basque. And if possible, I do it in Basque. I studied law in Spanish. At ikastola, until the age of 14, we learned everything in Basque, but all the subsequent learning I did was in Spanish. But I get very good in both languages, and I make it very easy to transfer between them.

In 2016 he made the judgment in Basque, the first in history in
Eibar… There was a hearing, if you will, and yes, I provoked it. When I see the option, I try to do it in Basque. There are very few possibilities, but I think we have to take advantage of them. It was a matter of inheritance that we were able to do with the secretary, without judges. The Basque secretary, the client was Basque, the lawyer, I, the Basque… And in Basque!

Photo: Crazy Horse / LUZ CC BY-SA

A number of conditions had to be met for that trial to be conducted in Basque. A complete casuistic!
It's the courts ... Let's go! [Spain] And yet, fortunately, today more and more Basque workers are working in the courts, they also have a linguistic profile, and as there are more Basque speaking workers, at least in some cases oral communication can be done in Basque. As for the secretaries and judges, very few know Basque. In the Administration of Justice, in the CAV, the competence of the staff lies with the Basque Government. It was competent ten or twelve years ago. Since then, it is clear that more workers know Basque, but they are officers, agents, processors... If we go further, we have justice lawyers, former secretaries, prosecutors and judges. And these three steps still depend on the Spanish Government and have no obligation to know Basque.

"Our world is not Basque, and we have to try, we need and we need, and that encourages me to work in Basque as far as I can."

We will never do so!
In some cases merit may be the knowledge of the Basque Country, but it is not mandatory. And there may be one judge in Eibar and another in Badajoz. A Basque judge from Donostiarra has still passed through Eibar. He has spent several years in Eibar. Young judge. With this we have been able to perform oral communication in Basque several times. However, this network that the Basque judge has had around him has also been a lawyer and in Spanish. Some things -- but that's the little things -- we do in Basque. Little. Right now, there are three judges in Eibar. That Donostia knew Euskera – but he has gone from here – and the other two did not. We have four lawyers and none Basque knows.

Always against the wall.
Yes. And I, against the wall yes, but I'm also not the kamikazea, because if I couldn't work. If I lived in the Basque world, I would not have to try. But our world is not Basque, and we have to try, we need and we need, and that encourages me to work in Basque as far as I can... The other day he enters a trial room and the judge has not yet arrived. But there was the prosecutor. And I: “Good morning.” And he: “Good morning!” “Good morning!” I, instead, and he tougher, “Good morning!” That's what we live. What should we do from there? In Spanish! If I can, I do it in Basque, but in some situations it is impossible.

Is Euskera a plus in your work?
I live it like this, but I don't know how the customer lives it. For example, if I am a client, when I select a professional, I value more if I know Basque. Look, once I had a lawsuit, the case of one of those lifelong families in Madrid, which was the business in Eibar. I worked as a lawyer. There was a lawsuit, as always, and when we finished everything, one of them came to me and congratulated me for speaking so well in Spanish. Coming to us, we need and we ask. But how many people have I seen asking for a vasco-speaking doctor and then, when he has needed an attorney, go to someone who doesn't know Euskera? ! We need some coherence, right? Enthusiastic Basques, and her lawyer…

Very erdaldun.
Of course. And we are full of words asking for a Basque doctor! I also prefer the Basque doctor, the councillors, the municipal workers, the Ertzainas… When you cannot, but it also depends on each one. However, I would say that the Basque country has improved in Eibar, has gained mass. When I started working, most of my clients didn't know Basque. Today, however, it serves many clients in Basque. Furthermore, they are young, and I am very happy to talk about legal things and see what they understand. At one time, although the client was Euskaldun, it was not a suit, and I preferred that I speak Spanish when I had to speak in legal terms. Today this has changed and gives joy.

* * * * * * *

“I’m from Eibar but we live in Bergara because my husband is from there. Bergara is much more Basque than Eibar. Child growth is also easier. At the age of seven, they can take the scooter and leave quietly. And they wouldn't receive the Basque people they receive in Eibar. Our children have received Euskera at home, but also in the village, and they speak naturally. There is a great difference between the two peoples.”

“As a
young man I studied piano. Then I studied law, started working and left the piano. Etc. Then, when my little son collapses, I thought I had to spend time again on music. And being in that, I knew that in Bergara they were going to give organ classes. An organ had never seen close, but I started, I liked it, and even today!”



“Once, an
emergency at home, I was calling the ambulance at three in the morning. Take the phone and in the first microsecond, do I have to do it in Basque or Spanish? We live in this country and we live in linguistic stress.”

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