A friend or family member might need your help in seeking legal services. This may be especially the case if the person doesn’t speak English. Here are some ways you can help someone who doesn’t speak English get legal representation.
Act as a Translator
Serving as a translator will help your friend or loved one work past communication challenges. You can sit in during meetings with a lawyer and interpret what each person is saying. It will help to know how to translate all the legal terminology. You might need to pick up a book or use online tutorials to learn how to translate certain legal information. If you’re not comfortable doing the translations yourself, hiring a translator will likely be your best option.
Hire a Bilingual Attorney
Some attorneys are able to communicate effectively in both languages. These attorneys likely have many clients who don’t speak English and are used to helping people with language challenges. The person who you’re trying to help will likely feel more confident by speaking with someone in the same language. This will also minimize communication errors that sometimes occur in translations. You can find plenty of bilingual attorneys, like those at Blomberg Benson & Garrett, who speak Spanish fluently. This is especially true if you live near a Hispanic-dominated community.
Turn to Advocacy Groups
There might be legal advocacy groups in your area that can provide services in the language of your friend or family member. For example, ProBono.net lists resources for Spanish-speaking people in Minnesota. Certain advocacy groups focus on specific areas of the law and help people determine their best options. You can get information on bilingual attorneys and translators who understand legal terminology. Many of these organizations have multiple offices that are spread across the country, which makes them easily accessible for everyone.
Help with English Skills
You can be even more helpful by working with the person on his or her English language skills. Even if fluency can’t be attained, learning some English words will help the person communicate more effectively. This will also help your friend or family member feel more empowered. In addition to covering legal topics, you can provide instructions on how to ask questions and understand the answers correctly. Learning how to discuss legal fees will also be important.
English isn’t a first language for everyone, and there are many ways to overcome communication barriers. Your guidance will help your friend or family member get the legal representation they need.
Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.