How Legal Translation Services Help Lawyers Attract Foreign Clients
More than ever before, lawyers and law firms have a tremendous opportunity to grow their law practice by developing a niche practice areas that serve the numerous and varied legal needs of foreign born individuals. In order to understand the opportunities available to law firms in marketing legal services to foreign born clients, it is necessary to have an understanding of the demographics related to foreign-born individuals living in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, there were a record 42.2 million immigrants living in the U.S. in 2014 representing 13.2% of the U.S. population. This represents a significant increase since 1960, when only 9.7 million immigrants resided in the United States and comprised just 5.4% of the population.
Foreign-born immigrants today are also more settled than they were in 1990. As of 2014, 71.9% of them have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years. However, the percentage of immigrants who are English proficient has actually declined since 1980. Not surprisingly, Spanish is the most prevalent non-English language, with 44% of immigrants reporting that they speak Spanish at home. Aside from Spanish, 6% of immigrants speak Chinese (including Mandarin and Cantonese), 5% speak Hindi, 4% speak Filipino or Tagalog, 3% speak Vietnamese, 3% speak French or Haitian, and 2% speak Korean.
Interestingly, while 13.9% of the U.S. population consists of immigrants, their children (otherwise known as second-generation Americans), comprise 11.9% of the population. It is projected that by 2050, these two groups could account for 37% of the U.S. population combined!
Aside from the significant statistics listed above, the foreign-born/multilingual population remains significantly untapped in the legal field. (For purposes of this article, the term “foreign born” refers to those individuals who have been raised in a foreign country but currently reside in the United States and speak little to no English.)
Surprisingly, many law firms do not make any concerted efforts to engage in multilingual marketing to what is a potentially lucrative niche market. There are several reasons why law firms tend to ignore this population, which include, but are not limited to, the following considerations:
• A perception that foreign-born individuals are “difficult” to have as clients
• Reluctance to employ a different marketing campaign
• Unfamiliarity with foreign languages and cultures and the belief that foreign-born clients should only be served by lawyers who speak their language
• A lack of understanding of the legal needs of foreign-born individuals
• A lack of understanding of the profitability that foreign-born clients can provide to law firms.
As to the last point, lawyers may not be aware of the tremendous purchasing power of the multilingual individuals residing in the United States. According to the American Immigration Council, Latinos and Asians (including both foreign and native born) collectively wielded $2 trillion in consumer purchasing power in 2012, and the businesses they owned reported sales of $857 billion in 2007. In fact, according to the American Immigration Council, immigrants continue to be nearly twice as likely as native-born citizens to become entrepreneurs. Given these impressive statistics, lawyers would be remiss to ignore the incredible value that foreign-born clients can bring to law firms’ profitability and growth, particularly in firms practicing in the following areas of law:
• Business Law
• Commercial Litigation
• Family law
• Civil Litigation
• Workers’ Compensation
• Criminal law
Foreign-born individuals are also likely to need legal assistance in matters involving contracts, landlord/tenant disputes, consumer law, liquor licensing, construction law, insurance, personal injury, estate planning, bankruptcy, and elder law.
Given the continued growth of foreign-born individuals residing in the United States, lawyers and law firms would be wise to consider directing at least some of their marketing efforts towards developing niche practice areas that can serve foreign-born clientele. Accordingly, we’ll explore the various ways that law firms can market to, and gain a competitive edge over, attracting foreign-born clients.