Many language students and professors travel for their studies. Not all find inspiration for seeking a second career in the legal field.

Miroslava “Mira” Detcheva, a Senior Lecturer in Spanish in SMU’s Department of World Languages and Literatures, was inspired to pursue a second career in law while studying in Mexico and traveling throughout Latin America. With a graduate degree in international relations and diplomacy, focusing on Spanish and Latin American Studies, earning a law degree seemed like a logical next step.

“Throughout my entire academic career, I consistently combined language and political studies. My background in international politics and knowledge of several languages and cultures inspired me to pursue a career in immigration law,” Mira Detcheva said.

Once she earned her law degree from SMU’s Dedman School of Law, Mira became a licensed immigration attorney and focused her practice on employment and business immigration law. Her linguistic skills and cultural competence have inspired and impacted her legal practice, and Mira primarily works with Spanish-speaking clients who need representation. Currently, her legal practice focuses on immigrant and non-immigrant visa options, but Mira continues to be interested in the topics of migration and immigration reform.

As an attorney and long-term educator, Mira noticed an opportunity to help other legal professionals serve their Spanish-speaking clients more effectively.

“I have encountered too many legal professionals who were never given the tools to improve their Spanish-language skills,” Mira said. “I understand what is needed to fill this void of proper language training tailored specifically to help the legal professional.”

To fill this void, Mira partnered with SMU’s Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) department to develop the new Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program. The nine-week course was designed to offer an entirely online learning experience, allowing flexibility for attorneys, legal administrators, paralegals and other professionals to advance their Spanish-language skills in contexts specific to the legal field.

In this program, students will learn to use correct pronunciation of Spanish vocabulary and legal terminology, to read documents and complete forms with correct Spanish grammar, and to reflect cultural competence in interactions with individuals from across the Spanish-speaking world.

“[The SMU Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program] is a great opportunity to acquire or enhance Spanish-language skills,” Detcheva said. “The format of the course is flexible, the tools allow for constant practice and instant feedback, and progress is measured by completing hand-on practical assignments.”

Enrollment is now open and online classes begin July 1. The State Bar of Texas has approved the SMU Spanish for Legal Professionals Certificate program for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit.

For more information about SMU CAPE’s online certificate program, visit or call 214-768-1184.