|Students Face Language and Cultural Barriers in Immigration Cases
BY JENNIFER BALDINO BONETT
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The most common challenge with clients is the language
barrier. This can be overcome with translators, but Paoletti is
attuned to shades of meaning in her clients' words. With her
knowledge of French, she caught the difference between "not
a great chance" and "not a 100 percent chance" for a francophone
African client. Such nuance can make "a great difference
in what the client is hearing," she says.
Overcoming cultural barriers is an even knottier matter.
"We're already talking two different cultural languages — the
culture of the law school versus the culture of the person coming
in and needing our services," says Paoletti. "It's getting the students
to understand that culture isn't just coming from another
country. Clients come to us with a different set of understandings
and assumptions and students do the same. Part of our job
is trying to identify those and look at how they may interfere
with our attorney-client relationship or help us understand it a
little bit better."