BORN in the old Quiron hospital in the heart of Marbella, Antonio Flores, 48, is a genuine Marbelli.
And after attending two international schools in the town, it is perhaps not surprising he should end up setting up a legal practice there.
“Marbella was the place to be after finishing law school in Madrid,” he tells the Olive Press.
“There was really nowhere else to consider. It’s the perfect place to live and my friends and family were there and there was plenty of business.”
This was, of course, the end of the 1990s when the resort was set to go through a decade-long boom.
His excellent grasp of English, plus the international group of friends he had made at school, set him up in good stead to pick up the growing numbers of foreigners arriving in Marbella.
After a year working for an English barrister called Stephen Granville, he struck out on his own and by 2002 had opened an office in the nerve centre of Avenida Ricardo Soriano, right next to the land register and tax office.
Today, his firm Lawbird counts on 16 staff, including his brother and sister, not to mention his wife Fatima.
As well as counting on hundreds of conveyancing clients, he has become well known around Spain for representing the land owner in the Julen well case, as well as the owners of the recently suspiciously gutted hotel Sisu in the town.
But he is also well known to Olive Press readers as one of the good guys prepared to take on cases against timeshare conmen, fraudsters and even gangsters.
With a keen sense of injustice, he realised that far too many innocent victims were losing their life savings to get-rich-quick schemes and online fraudsters.
“So many people were getting defrauded and a lot of it was coming out of boiler rooms on the Costa del Sol,” he explains.
“We were one of the first firms to take on these scumbags and we actually went and got pictures and even filmed undercover inside them.
“These people were calling thousands and thousands of people every week and most of the victims were British.
“We ended up working with the police and the victims to dismantle a number of these firms.”
In one celebrated success story he took power of attorney from 150 claimants, charging just 100 euros a client. “We couldn’t get much back for the victims in the end, but we did get them justice when the Malaga Criminal Court convicted the main ringleader to a prison term .”
And, of course, taking on the likes of timeshare supremo Toni Muldoon, embattled financier Baron Rotshchild and gold fraudster Nigel Goldman has its risks.
He admits he has had quite a few threats and has even been followed recently by a man on a motorbike.
“But I realised if I didn’t take these people on, then someone else would,” he explains.
These days, he is thankful that Marbella has a unique economy that means that the current Covid crisis is not affecting it as badly as many parts of Spain.
“Marbella is so different from Spain,” he estimates in a measured tone, similar to that of writer and TV presenter Louis Theroux.
“It’s economy relies on foreign income and investment and so, as long as some parts of the world are doing well, Marbella does fine.
“Currently we are seeing a lot of people coming here to set up as residents. A lot of rich people in America and the Middle East want to become tax residents here so they can come and go as they wish.”
Antonio Flores is so typical of Marbella in terms of background. His parents are from Catalunya and Málaga and both lived and worked in London in the 1960s, before working in the hotel trade, some of it in Africa. They ended working initially and then running a hotel training school, Bellamar, in the resort in the 1970s, when the main highway through Spain to Africa went through the town.
For more information visit www.lawbird.com