Denver Bar Association
September 2005
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Habla Español?

A Course for Forward-Thinking Lawyers and Their Firms


Of the 4.5 million people living in Colorado, approximately 11 percent, or more than 421,000, speak Spanish. In Denver County alone, one out of every five individuals speaks Spanish. As the demographics of the United States continue to change, legal practitioners in Colorado now have the opportunity to interact with a new client population: monolingual Spanish-speaking clients. Responding to the demand for language training in a legal context, the Colorado Bar Association CLE has partnered with the University of Denver (DU) Sturm College of Law to offer Spanish classes for legal professionals. "This innovative program will greatly benefit legal professionals by providing them with the ability to overcome the challenges of communicating with Spanish-speaking clients in a legal environment," says DU Sturm College of Law lecturer Valeria Elliott.

The ten-week CLE program was not created overnight. After a year of research and planning, these two organizations developed a unique program with the goal of teaching legal professionals how to communicate with their Spanish-speaking clients. By combining the fundamentals of the Spanish language with Spanish legal terminology, a customized program was born. Through the teaching of legal dialogues and phrases, the course will equip its participants with the tools to perform routine legal tasks, and better prepare professionals when they advise clients. The program materials incorporate cutting-edge learning tools such as voice recognition software, online workbook, interactive CD-ROM, audio and video programs, and access to a course website featuring legal reference materials in Spanish. Participants also will receive individualized feedback on their progress.

"We are proud to be the first CLE provider in the country to offer such an extensive course," says CBA–CLE program attorney Liz Giordano. "We surveyed our membership last fall to determine their level of interest, as well as their needs. Having access to the Spanish legal expertise at DU’s law school was very fortunate for us." The DU Sturm College of Law offers a full-fledged legal program taught in Spanish — the first of its kind in the country — that trains law students to represent Spanish-speaking clients in their local community or to conduct international legal transactions overseas. DU currently offers five law courses in Spanish, an intensive summer program in Spanish and internships in Spanish-speaking countries.

"We know that progressive law firms and lawyers will prosper in the future by responding to the profound growth in the Hispanic community and businesses," says CBA–CLE Executive Director Gary Abrams. "By developing this program, we want to help the legal profession succeed in serving the needs of the Spanish-speaking community, thus, creating new opportunities for attorneys and their firms." This fall’s introductory-level "Spanish for Legal Professionals" is just the start. More classes are in the works and set to get underway next spring.

For more information on the program, visit the CBA–CLE website at or call their office at (303) 860-0608.

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