Lawyers Learn Spanish

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People call attorney Marlene Gonzalez all the time, saying, ?Se habla Espanol??

They assume she speaks Spanish because of her last name, but she doesn?t: Her native language is Tagalog.

But because she wants to learn the language, she started attending the College of Law?s Spanish for Lawyers class when it began last week.

?It?s nice of the law students,? Gonzalez said. ?I really appreciate them volunteering their time to teach us Spanish.?

Spanish for lawyers is part of the law school’s Pro Bono Initiative, whereby lawyers and students volunteer their time for specific projects.

The school offers a free advanced and beginning Spanish class Tuesday and Thursday. About 25 are enrolled between the two classes, and eight volunteers teach the classes, two per session. While one of the teachers is a native speaker, most learned Spanish on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Second-year law student Kade Baird co-teaches the advanced class once a week.

?Spanish is one of the fastest-growing languages in the country. You?re bound to run into it,? Baird said, noting there are 50,000 Spanish speaking households in Denver alone. He learned Spanish in Colorado on his mission.

Baird also volunteers at the street law clinic at the Guadalupe School, a free legal clinic for primarily Spanish speakers in Salt Lake City. Learning Spanish lets lawyers reach out to more people, he said.

First-year law student Paul Sacksteder wants to learn Spanish for two reasons. One, he wants to pursue international law and speaking a second language will help him market himself. Two, the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, and he wants the ability to communicate with Spanish speakers. He said there?s been a huge influx of Latinos in his native town in Kentucky.

According to the 2000 census, 9 percent of Utah?s population is of Hispanic or Latino descent.

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