Attorneys and legal professionals who speak Spanish can provide better services to an important and growing segment of potential clients. More Texans claim Hispanic heritage than in any other state, except for California, and almost 30% of all Texans live in households in which Spanish is spoken.
With specialized Spanish language skills, legal professionals can offer personalized service and advocacy that will help you to cultivate greater trust and mutual understanding with your clients. Using a client’s preferred language will demonstrate respect, and conducting business in Spanish will support more efficiency through effective communication – leading to streamlined work and timelines.
The anxiety and fear of the unknown is substantially compounded by a lack of complete English fluency and familiarity with American institutional systems. Compassionate legal guides are required to translate our legal “language” for all clients, but particularly for those who speak Spanish as a first language.
— Elizabeth Bonanno, The Docket
Traditional language courses usually do not cover the specialized terminology and particular nuances needed in law practice. Programs like SMU’s new Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program prepare attorneys, legal administrators, paralegals, and others to engage effectively with Spanish-speaking clients and other stakeholders in professional legal settings. Professional credentials from a recognized program like SMU Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) will demonstrate your ability to:
- Use Spanish vocabulary and legal terminology
- Demonstrate correct pronunciation
- Read materials and documents in Spanish
- Complete forms and correspond with correct Spanish grammar and professional vocabulary
- Reflect cultural competence in interactions with individuals from across the Spanish-speaking world
Enhanced language skills can improve client services in any type of legal practice. The Dallas Morning News reported that “Hispanic business leaders are not receiving legal representation in matters involving incorporation, contracts, intellectual property, taxes and regulatory matters” because DFW business law firms “employ few-Spanish speaking attorneys with strong relationships in the Hispanic community.”
The ability to conduct business in Spanish also can help you expand your reach – companies and corporations looking to conduct international business rely on bilingual attorneys to support Latin American expansion. “In an ever-expanding global economy, multilingual lawyers are better suited to take on a wider variety of clients. These opportunities often translate into bigger career successes,” says Sean Patrick Hopwood of Day Translations, Inc.
The State Bar of Texas has approved the SMU Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit. Through a hands-on approach, SMU CAPE’s concentrated nine-week program can help working legal professionals build language skills and gain confidence. Add Spanish language credentials to your resume, and increase your capacity for impact with clients and in the community.
For more information about SMU CAPE’s online certificate program, visit smu.edu/legalspanish or call 214-768-1184.