I recently came across a web site where a law firm introduced itself as having bilingual speakers. The crucial piece of missing information? The other language spoken. What potential clients want to know is whether you speak their language, and not the number of languages which you can speak. Here are some different ways to think of this:
- Jurisdiction. Being bilingual is like telling people you are licensed to practice in two states. Which two you ask? Exactly.
- Interpreter. If you are taking a deposition and require an interpreter, would any bilingual interpreter do? Not likely. You want someone that that understands the same language as the person that will be deposed. You want a Spanish interpreter, German interpreter or Russian interpreter, and not any bilingual interpreter.
- Clients. Finally, it’s all about the clients. Your clients will be searching for a French-speaking, Mandarin-speaking, or Japanese-speaking attorney. Not a bilingual attorney.
If you speak two languages (or practice in two jurisdictions), list them.