Written by Luke Musto, Associate
Australia is a diverse, multicultural nation with a rich linguistic history. At the last census, more than one-fifth (21%) of people speak a language other than English at home.[i] In the Greater Sydney area, this jumps significantly to 35.8%. The law and getting good legal advice is complicated enough without a language barrier. Language access is a key issue facing the justice system. Even if someone speaks English reasonably well, they may still feel much more comfortable speaking in their native language to ensure that they are understanding and not missing any critical information. Using a translator is one solution, however, this is an added expense and in itself adds another layer of complexity.
A key part of Harris Gomez Group’s services is that all of our lawyers speak both English and Spanish. We have been proudly serving the Spanish and Latino community in Sydney for over 25 years!
What are some of the difficulties that non-English speakers will have?
No matter what language you speak, it is important that you are able to speak freely with your lawyer. For members of the community whose first language may not be English, they may find that they cannot express themselves as clearly as they would like. Simply put, they may just prefer or feel more comfortable speaking in their native language. Just because someone speaks English to a reasonable level doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from being able to have their legal needs met in their first language.
What are some of the difficulties with having a family member or friend act as interpreter?
Sometimes, when someone does not speak English fluently they may bring a family member to act as their translator or support person. This is not an ideal situation, for a few reasons.
- It is important that you are open and honest with your lawyer. Even if your family member perfectly translates everything for you, it may be that you feel embarrassed or reluctant to tell them everything about your issue. Because of this, you could change or omit important details that change the legal advice your lawyer provides.
- If you do rely on a friend or family member to act as an interpreter for you, it could be the case that their translating skills are not sufficient to be able to translate all the technical legal terms that will arise.
- Your family member may be too involved in your case to be able to impartially translate – your lawyer would have to advise them of this, which could cause unnecessary conflict.
What are some of the benefits of having a Spanish-speaking lawyer?
Some of the benefits include:
- Technical legal terms are a language of their own. Our lawyers have had specialist training and many years of experience in translating this type of Spanish.
- We understand your culture. All of our team understands the Latino and Spanish cultures, and particularly the differences that exist with the Australian way of doing things. We find that this immediately makes many of our clients feel at ease.
- By having a lawyer who already speaks your language, this will save the costs and time associated with having an interpreter or translator get involved.
What are some of the ways we assist the Spanish speaking community?
We assist the Spanish speaking community on a diverse range of legal issues, including:
- Business law
- Hospitality law;
- Property law and conveyancing;
- Intellectual property law;
- International issues and matters;
- Migration law; and
- Criminal law.
If someone isn’t receiving legal advice that they can clearly understand, there isn’t much point in getting it at all. At Harris Gomez Group, we understand that the Spanish-speaking community has specific needs when it comes to getting legal advice. If you or someone who know would benefit from having a lawyer who speaks Spanish, get in touch with our firm today.
Harris Gomez Group is an English and Spanish speaking law firm with 25 years experience based in Sydney, with sister offices in Chile and Colombia. We specialise in business, technology and corporations law, property law, and cross-border issues. We assist individuals, entrepreneurs and small to large sized Australian businesses with a variety of issues, including corporations law, property law issues (such as retail and commercial rental contracts) and contract disputes. We are members of both Australian Latin American Business Council (ALABC) and Auscham.
To better understand how we can support you, please contact Harris Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Sydney office is located at Level 7, 92 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.
[i] As per the Australian Bureau of Statistics: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/media%20release3