Meta: The world is more interconnected today so being bilingual, i.e., English-Spanish is a plus in several professions such as the legal practice.
Many industry sectors have gone global but one sector that is slow to adopt the trend is the legal world. Big law firms have several offices in others countries and cooperate with other law firms worldwide. Some of them have merged, yet it is seldom that bilingual or multilingual lawyers are in their employ.
Usefulness of Speaking Another Language
English as a universal language is a common belief. But globalization has changed that belief a long time ago. As many parts of the world become easily accessible, knowledge of other languages is very useful for proper communication and mutual understanding. Industries and businesses operate in different parts of the world, necessitating the employment of people who speak other languages. And when you operate internationally, you need the services of an international law firm to handle the legal side of your business operation.
Being bilingual or multilingual is critical especially for international law firms, since they handle cases outside their own country. Essentially, international lawyers use words when they practice their profession, which means language skills are essential.
If you have a choice, learning Spanish is a very good option. It is the second most spoken language in the world. If you are from the United States, you know that the number of Spanish speakers in the country is extremely large, therefore many opportunities are available to acquire Spanish-speaking clients in need of different types of legal services.
Benefits of Learning Spanish
It is essential for aspiring lawyers to acquire foreign language skills, meaning learning the legal language, such as legal Spanish. Learning Spanish shows prospective employers that you are fully committed to your chosen profession and willing to work hard to ensure employability.
Understand differences in terminology
As a lawyer, you know that the legal language is complex on its own and it is different from the language lay people speak. You use different jargons and specific legal terminology. You understand that the legal system in each country differs. While learning legal Spanish language you will know the difference of the Spanish legal system. For example, while the difference between an attorney and a lawyer is somewhat hazy in the United States, outright distinction between the two terms is present in the Spanish legal system.
To make things clearer, a lawyer is person who studied and trained in law. But a lawyer is not always an attorney. A lawyer cannot practice law and can only provide legal advice. A law student who passes the bar exam becomes an attorney and has the legal qualification to prosecute and defend a client in court.
High demand for Spanish-speaking attorneys
Spanish-speaking lawyers are in demand today. There is too much competition when you want to join a law firm. If you are fluent in Spanish, for example, you increase your chances of being employed, because you have another skill that makes you stand out against other aspirants.
Moreover, the ability to speak Spanish is a skill that you can apply to other aspects of your life later on. If you have gained enough experience as a lawyer and you want to try another field but do not want to veer away from the legal practice, you can become an English-Spanish translator who is a subject matter expert in legal translations.
Improve communication skills
With your skills in Spanish, you’ll improve your communication with clients. Consequently you can concentrate on providing the best legal service possible for your client, as you understand the language. You’re able to comprehend what your client needs, and you will be able to explain the information or the requirements required from the client in the language your client speaks. As a result your client will be able to trust you more.
Aside from the increased prospect in employment, bilingual lawyers receive higher salaries because you can be assigned to work on different projects. Moreover, you gain a higher degree of satisfaction knowing that you have an edge over your monolingual colleagues. You have additional employment options, not only in legal firms but other organizations that need the services of a legal practitioner. Being employed as a professional English-Spanish legal translator or a legal advisor for a Spanish firm are possibilities where you can combine law and language.
However there is one thing you have to remember. You have to be fluent in Spanish. You cannot gain the benefits enumerated above if your Spanish-speaking skill is below par. If you are an aspiring lawyer or already a legal practitioner, you cannot fool a law firm or clients to hire you if you are not a fluent Spanish speaker. Therefore you have to take Spanish language lessons from an accredited foreign language school.
If you want to join an international law firm, work in Latin America or practice your profession in the United States, knowing the Spanish language is to your advantage.
Improving Spanish Language Access
Out of the many law firms hiring lawyers and attorneys in the United States. About 88% are looking for attorneys who can speak Spanish. This is no longer a surprise since there are about 53 million people who speak Spanish is the U.S. In fact, the country has the most number of Spanish speakers outside of Spain.
A few years back, many U.S. universities stopped foreign language study as a requirement for entry to the university because American English has become the common language in many fields. But in professions such as law, there’s the need for trust and personal contact, which stresses the importance of cultural understanding and language skill.
To improve Spanish language access and learning, the California Western School of Law located in San Diego, established the Spanish for Lawyers program. The school’s assistant dean, James Cooper, coordinates the program and manages Proyecto ACCESO. It’s a Latin American training center for law students, community and government leaders, judges and lawyers. They receive training in conflict resolution, problem solving and oral advocacy skills.
On the other hand, the Spanish for Lawyers program provides Spanish language training as well as coaching for the subtleties of speech, since the usage and meaning of Spanish words differ, depending on the country. It helps them understand the differences in legal culture.
In conclusion with the number of Spanish speaking population in the United States continuing to grow, it’s time for aspiring lawyers to think about learning Spanish and becoming fluent in the language as soon as possible.
Bernadine Racoma is a content writer for DayTranslations.com. Her frequent travels enhance her cultural awareness that adds to her professional success as a writer. But her greatest joy and personal success come from having seven healthy, smart and loving children.