Why & How to Hire Bilingual Employees

In an increasingly global marketplace, legal professionals possessing bilingual abilities are more and more in demand, as law firms are looking to meet the needs of their customers.

As the population of non-English speakers in the United States continues to grow, hiring bilingual employees becomes important in meeting the unique language needs of clients seeking professional legal representation. If you are building a bilingual solo practice, you should also hire a bilingual lawyer, paralegal or receptionist, to better meet your clients’ needs.

Why Hire Bilingual Employees?

  • Hire bilingual employees that are able to communicate in your client’s native language to help your firm cater to an increasing population of non-English speakers.
  • Hire a bilingual receptionst to make a big difference in being able to interact and build rapport with clients from the moment they first call you.  People are always more comfortable with those who can speak their language and understand their needs.
  • Many non-English speaking immigrants do not obtain the legal help they need simply because they do not understand their rights. By hiring bilingual employees, you can bridge the communication gap to simplify the legal process and bring understanding to these clients.
  • Hiring a bilingual lawyer  has the potential to grow your practice and even open up your business to international markets. As your clients begin to do business in foreign markets or with foreign companies looking to expand their products and services into the U.S., you will position your firm to compete for their legal business.
  • A bilingual paralegal that can handle writing and communicating in another language can also help to reduce the need for document translation services and interpreting services. Marketing your services to non-English speaking communities places you on the cutting edge of those few law firms that can provide legal services for non-English speaking clients.

How to Hire Bilingual Employees

If you plan on recruiting and hiring a bilingual lawyer, secretary or receptionist yourself, here are some steps you should take:

  • Post ads in local newspapers, especially in foreign-language papers printed in your area. There are various recruitment websites available such as Bilingual Job Board or Craigslist, but also websites focusing only on recruitment of bilingual staff.
  • Be very specific about what you’re looking for and put together a list of skills that the applicants should possess in order to qualify for the job. If you end up hiring someone who does not have any legal experience, they may require additional language training.
  • Job fairs sponsored by community colleges, universities and business organizations can also be an excellent resource for hiring. You could hire either American students who are very fluent in a foreign language or foreign students who are fluent in English.
  • Word of mouth referrals from existing clients, vendors and colleagues can bring about additional prospects for potential staff members.
  • Properly test the applicant, both in English and the foreign language to make sure the person you choose will indeed be able to communicate efficiently in both languages.

If you don’t have the necessary time to handle this process, you should contact a specialized recruiting company that can find you proficient and trustworthy candidates. This will probably cost you more money, especially if the recruiting agency will also conduct applicant testing, but at least you will make sure you get only valuable candidates to interview.

For more information on building a bilingual solo practice, please check out my previous articles:

In my next article, I’ll be discussing improving your language proficiency (how to learn a new language).

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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