July 27th, 2011

Abogada Que Habla Español:  Spanish Speaking Attorney Shanti Michaels Serves Spanish Speakers in Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity Counties

There are over 34 million Spanish speakers nationwide and California has more non-English speakers of any US state, according to the US Census Bureau .   Many of these people are Spanish speakers seeking effective legal assistance for issues including personal injury, criminal defense, employment, and other legal matters.  Non-English speakers frequently make behavioral modifications to conduct their daily activities: asking a friend or child to interpret at a doctor appointment, handing over a greater sum of cash when making a purchase so as not to need to understand the amount due, or pointing instead of asking for directions.  With time, non-English speakers learn to communicate simple ideas.  Hiring a lawyer is another story.

Language barriers aside, American lawyers spend years in school learning complex nuances and legal concepts that essentially amount to another language (often jokingly referred to as “legalese”).  When a lawyer speaks with clients or witnesses, he or she must describe ideas that the client or witness has never encountered, with words that make the client or witness feel comfortable with the legal situation.  This is already difficult in English.

To make matters worse, the very legal system that this “legalese” describes, the common law legal system, is not a structure that Spanish speaking countries generally share.  Most Spanish speaking countries have civil legal systems which are based on statutory codes alone and not judges’ interpretations of the codes or prior court decisions.  Thus, learning the Spanish words for legal terms is insufficient.  It is akin to learning translated words for the metric system.  Sure, it is nice to know the Spanish word for meter is “metro”, but Americans don’t use meters.  Similarly, a Mexican lawyer does not use the same legal tools as American lawyers.  Spanish fluency, Spanish flexibility, and legal knowledge are all important components to communicating with Spanish-speaking clients in California.

Shanti Michaels, an associate attorney at Janssen Malloy LLP in Eureka, is fluent in Spanish and has experience with legal matters in Puerto Rico — one of the few, if not only — Spanish speaking jurisdictions that utilizes aspects of the United States common law legal system. Ms. Michaels also has experience communicating with Spanish speakers from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and Spain.  As a result of her linguistic flexibility, fluency, and legal training, she provides Spanish speakers in the Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, and Mckinleyville area with an attorney to call in times of legal necessity.

Shanti Michaels, abogada en el bufete de abogados Janssen, habla español y tiene experiencia en asuntos legales en Puerto Rico – uno de los pocos, si no el único – jurisdicciones hispanohablantes que utiliza ciertos aspectos del sistema legal de los EEUU. La Sra. Michaels también tiene experiencia en la comunicación con hispanohablantes de México, América Central, el Caribe, América del Sur y España.  Como resultado de su flexibilidad lingüística, su fluidez en español y su entrenamiento jurídico, ella ofrece un recurso para los que hablan español en el area de Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, y Mckinleyville en tiempos de necesidad legal.

Posted in JLF In Community, Shanti Michaels | Comments Off
Tags: ,

Comments are closed.