"What is your native language?" It's a question the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service staff representatives ask callers every day.
When it is obvious that a caller does not easily understand English, our staff tries to put the person in touch with social- or legal-service agencies that have bilingual staff who can help with the caller's legal problem or, at the very least, help identify his or her issues.
However, when a caller has difficulty with English but is able to explain the nature of their problem, staff will attempt to refer the caller to attorneys who speak their native languages. The most commonly encountered non-English languages are Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.
The LRS needs more bilingual lawyers to refer cases. For more information, call the LRS at (617) 338-0556 or visit the MBA Web site at www.massbar.org.