Via Harvard Gazette

Harvard Law class helps student attorneys to serve their clients better

Spanish for Lawyers

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Law School alumnus Joey Michalakes teaches a Spanish course for HLS students who need help translating legal concepts and terminology to serve their Latino and Hispanic clients, most of whom speak only Spanish.

An asylum applicant from El Salvador who was extorted by gangs back home is reluctant to share those stories in court for fear of retaliation against relatives who stayed behind.

A divorce client who has suffered physical and emotional abuse needs to be informed about filing restraining orders, child support, and alimony.

A wage-and-hour plaintiff is afraid of being questioned by a judge about his immigration status because he could be deported.

Those are actual cases that Harvard Law School (HLS) students practiced in a role-playing exercise in a classroom in Wasserstein Hall. The scene could have taken place in any regular law course that uses simulation drills to give students practical experience in interviewing and counseling clients.

But this is not a regular law class.

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