Language Justice Principles for Everyday Practice and COVID-19

May 2020

This article is from the American Bar Association


What is language justice, what are tips for lawyers to practice it, and why is this especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic? This article answers these commonly asked questions and more. This article is a follow-up to Language Justice in Legal Services published by the Management Information Exchange Journal.

“What is language justice?

Language justice is an evolving framework based on the notion of respecting every individual’s fundamental language rights—to be able to communicate, understand, and be understood in the language in which they prefer and feel most articulate and powerful. Rejecting the notion of the supremacy of one language, it recognizes that language can be a tool of oppression, and as well as an important part of exercising autonomy and of advancing racial and social justice.

From finding an attorney, understanding options and remedies, filling out forms, and simply navigating the courthouse, inadequate communication in any aspect of accessing the justice system can have serious consequences. In a legal context, language justice is a commitment to ensuring individuals marginalized based on their national origin, ethnic identification, and language are not denied equal access to services, remedies, and justice overall.”

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