This April 20th, the Berks County Bar Association (BCBA) hosted its annual Bench-Bar Conference. The conference offered three sessions: Criminal Law, Family Law, and Civil Law. Our firm is proud to announce that Senior Partner Gabriela Raful presented a plenary session for all participants to attend. The primary focus of Gabriela’s continuing legal education (CLE) course was to teach law firms how to effectively connect with Spanish-speaking clients through incorporating practices that promote cultural competency and diversity. Gabby presented the course with Lenin Agudo, Director of the Widener University Small Business Development Center.
Each state has its own CLE requirements that attorneys must fulfil in order to maintain their license to practice. In Pennsylvania, for example, attorneys must complete a minimum of 12 hours of continuing legal education courses every year. The courses are on substantive law, practice, and procedure, lawyer ethics and the rules of professional conduct, professionalism, and substance abuse as it affects lawyers and the practices of law. Per PA requirements, at least two of the 12 hours of continuing legal education courses that attorneys complete must focus on ethics.
The CLE that Gabriela presented, entitled “Connecting with Spanish-speaking Clients”, gave attorneys a unique take on the various ethical considerations they must account for to bridge language and cultural differences with clients. As a native of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Gabby is fluent in Spanish. This allows her to seamlessly communicate with clients in their native tongue, making it so that they do not have to worry about language and cultural barriers arising when they need to ask questions about their case or to communicate their concerns.
Gabby’s presentation focused on how important it is for law firms to market to their prospective Hispanic clientele. In Berks County, for example, Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic, comprising just over 23% of the population. Gabriela also provided critical information on how attorneys can better understand different members of the Hispanic community in the United States, such as Americanizados, who are English dominant, and Latinoamericanos, who are Spanish dominant. According to data from the Nielsen Company, today’s Hispanic legal consumers are:
Some of the most prevalent issues for Hispanic clients are personal injury, immigration, and will and estate planning. Nearly one-third of Hispanics live in multigenerational family households, which means they rely predominantly on word-of-mouth referrals. In her presentation Gabby also emphasized the importance of every firm improving its cultural competency, or its awareness and acceptance of differences in communication, life view, and definitions of legal matters, as well as how these factors play an integral role in procuring a successful outcome for clients.
Gabriela has worked closely with the BCBA since 2017, when she first began sitting on the Bar’s Board of Directors. Just last year, BCBA members elected her as their President-elect. She will be the association’s president in 2023. Gabby is the first minority to be elected to this position. Gabriela also serves as Chair of the Bar’s Minority Law Section, which promotes the full and equal participation of minorities in the justice system. Throughout her professional career, Gabby has shown steadfast dedication to helping underserved communities. In 2020, the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) awarded Gabby with its highly coveted Pro Bono Award for providing critical legal services to indigent and disadvantaged individuals who are unable to afford legal representation in times of need.
At Galfand Berger, Gabriela represents clients in the areas of workers’ compensation, personal injury, products liability, and social security disability. If you would like to learn more about Gabby or to speak to a member of her legal team, contact a representative who can help online now.
If you have a question about filing a legal claim, contact the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.