If you only speak one language, or you just aren’t comfortable speaking that second language you learned over a decade ago, you may not think it’s possible to expand your practice to cater to non-English speaking clients. However, thanks to modern technology, even a monosyllabic and monolingual lawyer can easily and effectively communicate with clients who don’t even speak their own language.
Unfortunately, there may not be one single app that solves the language barrier problem. But by using a combination of translation apps and live services, you may be able to cater to an entirely new pool of clients.
Don’t be an App-barrassment
Apps can often translate words, phrases and even whole sentences flawlessly. Now-a-days, you can even just use your smartphone’s camera to input the non-english text, or even have a non-English speaking client speak directly into your smartphone’s microphone. If you have a working knowledge of the language, clients will appreciate you using their preferred language and will often be willing to help use the translation software with you.
But, more often than not, if there are idiomatic expressions (which nearly all languages revolve around), or any complexity to the sentence structure or diction, you should have the app’s translation reviewed by a native speaker. As one law firm learned quite some time ago, translation programs can lead to embarrassment. The firm attempted to translate the phrase “we specialize in white collar crime,” but comically the program’s translation, when read in the non-English language, said “we specialize in the white crime of the necklace.” This sort of translation mistake is a giant red flag to the consumers being targeted.
Live Telephonic Translation/Interpreters Available 24/7
Thanks to the internet and globalism, qualified translators and interpreters are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in nearly every language. You don’t even need to place an international phone call as many live translation services operate over the internet. Costs can range from paltry to excessive, but usually corresponds to quality, though be wary of internet scammers.
When it comes to the actual court appearances, you may need to find your own qualified and certified interpreter to appear in court to help your client. Depending on your agreement with your client, this can even be a cost you pass through. Though eating the cost yourself will likely ingratiate the client (and their potential non-English speaking referrals) to you.