El Derecho en Español: Terminologia y Habilidades Juridicas Para Un Ejercicio Legal Exitoso, By Katia Fach Gómez, University of Texas Press, May 2014

Vol. 43 No. 4

Reviewed by

Alexandra Rengel, LLM, JSD, is a partner in Mercado & Rengel, which has offices in Miami, Boston, and Madrid. A member of the Florida and Massachusetts bars and the Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid, she is an experienced litigator in U.S. state and federal trial and appellate courts. She is the author of Privacy in the 21st Century (Martinus Nijhoff 2013).

The rise of the global economy and cross-border litigation has increased demand for lawyers who are fluent in other languages and familiar with foreign legal systems. Lawyers who are able to understand the legal jargon in a foreign language are better qualified to handle deals and disputes arising in the international context. Cross-border legal representation has become commonplace and lawyers from different countries increasingly collaborate. Fluency in legal Spanish opens doors to a world of opportunities, as Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the United States and one of the three most commonly used languages in the world. Spain and Latin America continue to provide a wealth of opportunities for business and commerce, and lawyers are realizing the benefits of having fluency, not only in the Spanish language but also in Spanish legal jargon.

Understanding the use of a foreign language in the legal context is more involved than merely translating words; it requires a linguistic sophistication that must be learned. El Derecho en Español, authored by Katia Fach Gómez, is an excellent resource for those professionals who need to have a knowledge of legal Spanish. El Derecho en Español is a user-friendly activity book that teaches traditional and well-known legal terms, canons of interpretation, default rules, and common usages of terminology used in legal Spanish. This book can be used in a myriad of ways. It can be used by those who are fluent in Spanish but not familiar with Spanish legal jargon, as an activity book to teach legal Spanish, and as a reference source for those practitioners collaborating with their Spanish and Latin American counterparts and wanting to understand legal Spanish in context.

Although other books purport to teach legal Spanish, they are mostly dictionary-type books, which do not adequately cover the needs of those who want to improve and update their knowledge of legal Spanish and its framework of applicability. Other books devoted to learning legal Spanish are very basic and do not address legal drafting in Spanish, which is essential for law practitioners. El Derecho en Español provides users the added benefit of practical exercises designed to measure their learning in the various areas of the law. This book clearly fills a gap in what is currently available in the market on the subject.

As a law practitioner in both Spain and the United States, I have experienced the benefits of being able to communicate utilizing the appropriate legal terminology in my work in each jurisdiction. El Derecho en Español is a very comprehensive guide that effectively teaches legal Spanish and I highly recommend it for anyone working in a law-related field who wants to become familiar with Spanish terminology as it is used in real legal transactions.


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