Palm Beach Florida

The Bilingual Law Firm Will Be a Common Site on the Future American Landscape

Nearly 35 million Americans consider Spanish their primary language. When you factor in other non-English primary languages nearly 15% of the United States population speaks English as a second language, or not at all. The Hispanic population is expected to triple by the middle of century, and other non-White mostly immigrant ethnic groups are expected to rise in numbers as well. These individuals will be living in a society; however, that for the most part operates its civil functions and public works explicitly through English.

We can expect these strict language mandates to change over time, but in the meantime there is an ever increasing demand for legal representation among our nation's naturalized citizenship. Oftentimes these individuals cannot speak English, especially older folks. Yet any interaction with the American court system requires an English speaking agent. Civil rights that are entitled to all citizens face a critical juncture when applied to someone who must use or participate in the American court system but doesn't know English. Their choice of attorney is often based on whether said attorney agrees to operating through a translator; usually a family member. But many lawyers will reject such an agreement citing not only potential violations of lawyer-client privacy but also out of fear of having the confusion of speaking through a translator, albeit one invested in the case, affect evidence or other factors at play.

I live in a city with a high percentage of both Vietnamese immigrants and refugees from the former Yugoslavia. The other day I was very pleased to not only drive by a private law practice being run by Bosnians, but just a few miles down the road I saw that a Vietnamese law firm had just opened up too. When we talk about bilingual law firms we might be imagining a WASP picking up some Rosetta Stone software, but the reality may be more along the lines of first generation immigrants going to law school and opening up a practice in the old neighborhood. There's no reason why you shouldn't expect to see among countless Miami attorneys many established Cuban-American law firms advertising themselves to Spanish speakers. These guys surely saw the demand coming years ago and decided law school would be a great place to jumpstart a high paying career and learn skills they could help their communities with.

Giving back to the community is a prime factor in the creation of bilingual law firms. The influx of earnings certainly won't be as high as it would if you went to work for a partnership or other sophisticated legal institution, no doubt about that. However helping those who you were once in the same boat with whether literally or figuratively is an opportunity to make a real difference in the live of others.

The pay cut isn't too horrible either, even with law school loans knocking down your door. Your clientele will likely come pouring in once they've heard about you. You can count on these folks to be much more comfortable confiding in a legal eagle of their own ethnic background who speaks their native language. They'll know what they're really saying is being heard by their attorney, and in turn they we have a more emboldened outlook on the American justice system.

If you're the offspring of immigration, know your native tongue, have aspirations for a J.D., and look around at a neighborhood of immigrants who don't have adequate access to legal representation, consider going to law school and starting a bilingual law firm. Your business will probably sell itself.

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