How a lawyer who speaks Spanish can make a difference
I have always believed that I could help the Immigrants in the Baltimore Latino community by speaking Spanish. Therefore, I have spent the last five years studying Spanish on a daily basis. Here is an important example of why this is can be so helpful to my clients.
I have a client from Honduras. He and his ex wife have a little boy together. Recently, his ex wife filed a petition for a Restraining Order against him. He denied beating her and I believe him. She also filed assault charges against him for the same alleged incident.
In the hearing for the Restraining Order, I did not want my client to testify, because his testimony in the hearing could be used against him in a criminal case. Neither did I want my client to agree to a general Restraining Order if he did not hit his ex wife.
Also, I didn’t want to have a long hearing where I had to interrogate his ex wife. An extensive and contested hearing can leave both parts angry and vengeful. So, I needed to find a solution that will leave both the ex-wife and ex-husband happy as they leave the courtroom.
I approached the ex-wife and introduced myself in Spanish. Because the ex-wife and my client had a one year old boy from their marriage, I then said in Spanish, “Do you agree that the most important person here is the baby?” She agreed. Immediately after I said in Spanish: “Do you agree that you and your ex-husband should share the baby so both of you will spend time with him? She agreed again. I said in Spanish: “Let’s try to find an agreement.”
We were able to find a simple solution. Without admitting or denying anything, my client agreed to not have illegal contact with his ex-wife. This, of course, is the same thing as not having an Order at all, because no one is allowed to have illegal contact anyway.
The point here is that because I was able to approach the ex wife, look her in the eye and talk to her in Spanish, I believe it was easier to find a solution. Although this could be possible without speaking Spanish, it would have been far more difficult if we had to use an interpreter. It was more effective for me to be able to speak to the wife directly. There is an old saying: “something gets lost in translation” and this could easily have been the case here.
I believe that my ability to communicate in Spanish helps my clients to reach the best outcome in their cases. I also believe that I can explain better to them the Maryland law and how it applies to their individual circumstances because I can describe how the law affects them in their native tongue.