In “Acquiring Foreign-Born Clients: Marketing Legal Services to a Growing Niche” we talked about the importance of professional legal translation and interpreting services in helping a law firm become a foreign-language-friendly firm and, thus, attract more foreign clients and foreign-born clients. Once your law firm has been positioned as the law firm dedicated to serving foreign nationals, an ethical dilemma, pertaining to foreign language translations, may arise.
Question: Can an attorney advertise his or her ability to communicate in a foreign language when in fact it is an employee of the attorney who will be doing the foreign language translations?
Answer: According to the majority of ethic codes governing the behavior of attorneys, it is ethical for an attorney to advertise the availability of a non-lawyer employer to speak in a foreign language as long as it is explicitly clear that a non-lawyer – not the attorney – will be doing the foreign language translations.
Further, if the attorney advertisement is written in the foreign language that is being promoted, all required disclaimers must also appear in the foreign language. If the advertisement contains multiple languages, the required disclaimer must be translated into all the foreign languages.
Whenever an attorney uses a non-lawyer employer to provide client communications in a foreign language, that lawyer assumes all responsibility for the accuracy of the information conveyed.