Helping Clients Overcome Language Barriers to Court System


When Maria’s* sister died, she immediately volunteered to take in her minor nieces and nephew, ages 10, 7, and 4.

Although Maria was already raising three children of her own on a very limited income, she knew she had to help them - the children had no one else. The father of the younger children had recently passed away, and the father of the oldest had long since abandoned the child and disappeared.

Maria speaks Spanish, and her lack of English fluency made it difficult to navigate the court process.

Maria turned to the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association's (VLP) Lawyering Across Languages program for help in securing guardianship of her two nieces and nephew.

VLP staff matched Maria with a volunteer attorney and arranged for an interpreter to facilitate their communication. LSC funds made it possible for VLP to provide an interpreter for every client who needs one.

The court granted Maria permanent guardianship of the children. They now have a secure home and Maria is able to manage their education and medical care.

 *Names have been changed