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U.S. law firms are reaching out to potential Spanish-speaking clients through Web sites en espa�ol to meet the needs of a growing Hispanic population. The statistics build a good case for the investment. One out of every seven people in the United States is Hispanic, the country’s largest minority group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Also, Spanish is the nation’s second most spoken language. Fontes Laboy Law Group of Phoenix offers bilingual services, including a Spanish-language Web site at www.fonteslaboylaw.com/spa/index.html. With about 40% of his clients primarily speaking Spanish, partner Adrian Fontes said running a bilingual firm is a necessity. Fontes, who grew up on the Mexican border and served as assistant attorney general for foreign prosecution in Arizona, knows the value of bilingualism in business. “Our attorneys speak Spanish and bridging the information gap between how the legal system actually is and what people see on TV is very important,” he said. “Being monolingual is a handicap. The United States is not a monolingual nation, so there is no reason why our lawyers should be.” Lou Meisinger and Jerry Gumpel, who practice in Los Angeles-based Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s Hispanic/ Latino business group, agreed. “Especially at our Del Mar [Calif.] office,” Gumpel said, “clients think it is absolutely natural to e-mail and communicate in Spanish.” “And they expect their lawyers to respond likewise,” Meisinger added. Though only a small percentage of the firm’s clients are primarily Spanish-speaking, Meisinger said, some of the clients in that group are among the firm’s top 20, and he spends about half his time speaking Spanish. Meisinger noted that “[b]eyond language issues there are cultural issues you need to be sensitive to.” The firm offers Spanish-language seminars on employment law and indecency and bilingual training programs. A market niche Warren Redlich, a Spanish-speaking litigator in Albany, N.Y., estimated that about 10% of his clients are Hispanic. He said he receives most of his Spanish-speaking clients through referrals. But he does maintain a Spanish-language Web site, www.litigacion.com, to fill a niche in the legal market. “I’m trying to establish myself as ‘the lawyer who speaks Spanish,’ and no other lawyers in the area are really marketing themselves on the Internet [with Spanish-language Web sites],” he said. “It’s disrespectful to just have ‘se habla espa�ol’ on your site,” Fontes said. “If you’re not going to offer the whole service, then don’t do anything at all.” Baron & Budd, a Dallas-based firm, recently launched a Spanish Web site, at www.mesoteliomaespanol.com, about mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. “We have represented many Hispanic clients suffering from mesothelioma who were needlessly exposed to asbestos on the job, and we saw a real need to make information about this disease available in Spanish,” Russell Budd, the firm’s managing shareholder, said in a release.

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