“Tax law can sometimes be just as complex and confusing for an expert in the subject as it is for a university student. For example, let’s consider the recent case with Apple’s tax payments, or the situation surrounding tax amnesties.”
“When I say I’ve been teaching at IE for 30 years, I always get the same question: ‘Wait, how old did you say you were?’” Luis tells us. In this interview, he explains how the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has been positive for virtual education. Once seen as low in quality, Luis argues that online learning is quickly becoming crucial to the future of education.
Luis Leis, Spain
IE Law School Professor
How do you teach your students using comparative law methodology?
The methodology itself is very simple and easy to understand. It gives students a broad vision of what is happening in other regions and other countries, providing them with a competitive edge that also enhances our own understanding.
Consider what’s happening with traffic restrictions in cities, TV shows, new coronavirus protocols, and so on. We all share a variety of problems and needs, and the law is no exception to this.
It’s becoming increasingly useful for us to look at other countries’ situations and regulations as a way of learning more about our own position, while thinking about potential next steps and existing alternatives. Take the way that euthanasia is regulated in the Netherlands, Italy or Canada and consider how it can help us analyze how we regulate in this area. In tax law (where we explore the various types of taxes, what they look like, etc.), we can find even more examples of how effective this methodology is.
What do you get from the dynamic you have with your students?
Their skills and their attitudes give me greater confidence in their generation, which is also very comforting as I think about my own future. Above all, I love to teach, so I get a lot out of the time I spend with my students. It’s a good feeling in itself, like when you invest time in relationships with friends and family.
What do you learn from teaching that helps you in the professional practice of law?
Firstly, it forces you to stay up to date on news, regulations, jurisprudence, and any kind of technical questions related to what you’re teaching.
But there are also students who bring up or ask about a case similar to one we’re working on at the firm. And, on top of the networking opportunities, there’s a chance to explore each other’s knowledge of different topics or markets which may be unknown to us.
For example, I have a professional and academic relationship with Honduras thanks to a student named Juan José, who invited me to teach a few courses in Tegucigalpa.
What are some of the emerging fiscal challenges being posed by the digital economy? And how is technology (for example, AI) finding solutions to better solve fiscal problems? Are there new generations of lawyers who are interested in the relationships between tax and technology?
It has been said that computer programs and tech tools can do the job of a tax advisor. This gives us a good idea of how important technology is to our profession right now.
Not only is there a whole area of the legal profession dedicated to this field (what we know as legaltech), but we’re also seeing tax inspection and compliance programs evolving in this regard. It isn’t about a digital sector within tax consulting—it’s about the digitalization of the sector as a whole.
In other words, it’s not the digital economy, but rather the digitalization of the economy. And this has also been well understood within the fiscal sector. We see this new reality when we look at Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the BEPS Project, and I believe that the new generations of lawyers are very conscious of this.
What do you like most about teaching? What have you learned from teaching in a virtual environment?
As I said, I love teaching and the relationships I get to build with my students. Obviously teaching at IE Law School helps a great deal. In many ways it means being among the elite of our profession. I usually tell my students that they are surely within the top 1% of the global population in terms of their situation. We must value and take advantage of that.
That takes me to the second part of the question regarding virtual teaching. In our case, this new approach to education has marked a big step forward in many ways. IE has once again proven itself to be a visionary institution in how it teaches professionals and executives. Distance education no longer belongs to an inferior category of learning, and it has opened us up to a world of possibilities that guarantees quality education, no matter the circumstance. And this idea is what Liquid Learning—IE’s new approach to education—is essentially based on.