For starters, Brazilians do not consider themselves Latin. Brazilians speak a version of Portuguese, not Spanish. Brazil is a vast country and contains many cultures. Its cultural influences include Portugal, Africa, Germany, Japan, South American neighbors, and its Indigenous populations.
The best advice for your law office
Lawyers who find themselves with immigrant clients or decide to market legal services to those communities should expect challenges due to the large gap between immigrants and the U.S. legal system. Effective marketing must be highly customized to the sensitivities of the culture.
- Spend time building relationships. Complete trust does not happen immediately. This is especially important for criminal lawyers to note. Immigrants want relationships and time for providers to demonstrate respect and understanding before fully disclosing the facts.
- Speak the language. Any professional office hoping to benefit from the considerable immigrant market must diversify its office staff. Someone in each office must have fluency in the market’s spoken, written, and culture. When in need of an interpreter, use an experienced service.
- A culture of litigation. Diverse cultures have different views of attorneys. For example, the Department of Justice in Brazil recognizes more than 1,406 law schools in the country, more than the rest of the world combined. NPR radio in Boston reports that in Brazil, there is one lawyer for every 190 citizens and one lawsuit for every two people. This is an extremely litigious society.
- Put it on the table. Most immigrants seek clarity. This requires proficiency in the language because they want everything in the open and will review documents at length. An office enhances its image when it can provide trained legal interpreters who understand the culture and speak the language with proper legal terminology.
- Clarify your role. One practice the Brazilian society finds appropriate is to seek legal advice from notarios. In the US, the law the explicitly prohibits this type of business. Only a qualified attorney should give legal advice. Nonetheless, due to cultural differences, immigrants may expect advice on multiple types of issues. They may not understand specialization.
Your takeway. Contemporary legal services have new facts to face. Unassimilated immigrants make up a large part of our Massachusetts population. They represent a market with power and resources. However, your law office can only serve this market and grow in it if you address the gap between immigrants and U.S. legal services, understand its culture and legal needs, and develop a sound strategy for marketing to it.