If you are looking for ways to expand the reach of your legal practice, learning to speak Spanish can be an effective way to do just that. The Latinx population in the United States has reportedly grown 70% since the year 2000, making it the second fastest growing ethnic group in the country. It represents a huge segment of the population that requires legal services for both general and specific needs ranging from estate planning to immigration assistance. Additionally, as Latinx population rates and legal needs increase, so too do their net worth and annual gross spend, making the Latinx community an excellent target clientele. It is estimated by the Selig Center for Economic Growth that Latinos currently spend approximately $1.8 trillion each year in the United States.
Latinx-Owned Businesses are Growing, and They Need Lawyers so if you want to grow your practice learn Spanish.
Not only are Latinos one of the fastest-growing segments in the United States – second only to people of Asian origin – but they also represent one of the fastest-growing business segments. A study conducted at Harvard in 2017 found that there were 4.37 million Latinx businesses generating approximately $700 billion in sales in the U.S. These new businesses are disrupting the market, creating an even larger market for Spanish-speaking customers, as well as significant demand for Spanish-speaking lawyers. Some researchers estimate that by 2060, Latinos will make up 29% of the population in the United States. This means that for forward-thinking law firms who want to plan their growth strategically, having a plan for meeting the needs of Latinx businesses and clients is necessary, and those preparations should start today.
An increasing Latinx population means increasing legal needs and demand for Spanish-speaking lawyers. There are currently 62.1 million Latinos located in the United States. Of these, it is estimated that over 39 million of them speak Spanish as their primary or preferred language. When those individuals need legal assistance or representation, they will likely seek out attorneys who they can communicate with quickly and easily, rather than having to work hard to communicate their needs to an attorney who does not speak their language. If a Latinx individual or business is investing in legal representation, they will more likely choose a law firm that caters to their needs and understands their needs rather than have to work hard to get their attorney to understand them.
Spanish-Speaking Businesses Need Spanish-Speaking Lawyers. There are nearly 5 million Latinx-owned businesses generating over $700 billion in sales annually. All of these businesses can benefit from legal representation. Lawyers often have to handle negotiations and other communications on behalf of their clients. This may mean negotiating contracts in Spanish or speaking to Spanish-speaking suppliers or manufacturers. It is easier in this situation to have a Spanish-speaking attorney who can handle all aspects of the transaction, rather than having to retain a translator or additional counsel.
Given the choice, Latinos will choose lawyers who cater to their needs. Latinos have a great deal of capital and buying power, and can choose to pay for services that are designed with their needs in mind. They do not have to settle for legal services provided in a non-native language when many of the nation’s top law firms are now making sure to have Spanish-speaking associates.
Latinos may prefer Spanish-speaking lawyers for business transactions. Latinos often prefer to conduct business and handle important matters while speaking Spanish to avoid miscommunications. Businesses that accommodate this preference will have a competitive advantage, and will likely generate repeat business from these clients.
Word of mouth is powerful. Making your Latinx clients feel comfortable and heard, as well as making it as easy as possible for them to conduct business and get the legal assistance that they need, will increase the likelihood of generating repeat clients, as well as of these clients recommending you to other businesses that they are in communication with.
Law firms that meet Latinx needs now can grow alongside this demographic. With the Latinx demographic estimated to continue growing, and to make up nearly 30% of the population within the next 30 to 40 years, this creates an excellent opportunity for law firms to begin catering and building strategic relationships with Latinx clients and businesses right now.
Latinx clients are just like other legal clients. They can have varying and complex needs and may have little to no connection to their country of origin. While some Latinx clients may need assistance with building a business or handling an immigration issue, others may simply need help with a speeding ticket or civil matter. The idea is not to change your practice, but rather to make your existing practice accessible to Spanish-speaking clients. After all, if you received notice of a civil suit, it would be far easier to discuss it and develop a defense strategy with someone who speaks your preferred language. It is also in your firm’s best interest to ensure that all communications with your client are clear and easily understood. However, there are five areas of law that are seeing the highest demand from Latinx clients, which we will delve into more detail about below.
From family immigration to employment visas and deportation cases, immigration law is a broad and critical segment of any legal practice that hopes to build a Latinx client base. Many law firms regularly report having far more demand than they can meet. Having the resources in place at your firm to accommodate clients in need of immigration-related legal services, which includes having Spanish-speaking lawyers, will automatically give you a competitive advantage in this field. Even Intellectual Property and Employment Law practices would be well advised to begin expanding their immigration practice and to increase the presence and experience of Spanish-speaking lawyers in their firms. Guadalajara has quickly become the Silicon Valley of Mexico with an increased demand for technological protection such as patents and trademarks in the United States. Additionally, countless companies need help getting employment visas from highly skilled employees at Latinx tech companies in Mexico and abroad.
Estate planning for Latinos may be as straightforward as it is for all other United States citizens, but if a Latinx client is not a United States citizen or has a spouse or beneficiaries that are not citizens, it can complicate matters. To best serve the needs of non-citizens, law firms must understand the tax differences that come into play in these situations. Estate and probate attorneys who want to serve Latinos with family members and potential beneficiaries abroad would be well advised to learn how citizenship status can affect the estate planning process, as well as focus on how to develop comprehensive estate plans that account for tangible assets located abroad. In many cases, understanding and utilizing Qualified Domestic Trusts (QDOTs) will be an effective means of serving this clientele, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with this vehicle. Another important consideration is the creation of informal guardianships for the children of any clients who may be under threat of detention or deportation.
Developing relationships with immigrant-owned small businesses can be an excellent way to expand your clientele and reach this demographic. Law firms have a unique opportunity to help Latinx-owned businesses and other small businesses thrive by helping them navigate funding and investment opportunities, as well as by giving them the tools they need to grow, such as contracts and partnership agreements.
Having experienced attorneys who can navigate the intersection of family law and immigration law will allow you to serve Latinos and give you a competitive advantage over other firms. Also understanding how matters such as domestic violence charges can impact a person’s residency status, or how being a victim of domestic violence may allow someone to proceed with the naturalization process without a sponsor, can be of great help to your clients.
Getting a traffic ticket or reckless driving charge may not seem like a big deal, but it can have major consequences for someone who is here on a visa and pursuing citizenship. Catering to these clients, many of whom are now able to obtain driver’s licenses, can open up another avenue to attract new clients to your firm.
While the internet is still an effective means of attracting clients, statistics show that Latinos use the Internet less than other groups. For this reason, it is a good idea to use digital marketing efforts in conjunction with more traditional means of advertising.
According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos who frequent the Internet most often do so from a mobile device (80%), so make sure that your website and digital ads are optimized for mobile devices.
Align yourself with organizations that are currently pursuing the Spanish-language audience. For instance, LegalShield has launched a Spanish language plan to target the Spanish-speaking audience. This provides opportunities for Spanish-speaking attorneys to join their network across the U.S. and earn fees while serving this community.
If you want to expand the reach of your law firm and grow to serve a greater audience of Latinx clients, it is time to start making changes today. Learning Spanish as well as recruiting and retaining Spanish-speaking lawyers, and taking steps to make your website and resources more accessible to Latinos will allow you to grow with this demographic.
Use these tips to integrate Spanish-speaking practices into your law firm to help expand your reach and grow your client base.