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Language Access

LAFLA has been a longtime leader in helping make sure that people who are limited English proficient are served in the language they speak and receive access to court interpretation to seek civil justice. LAFLA was one of the first legal aid organizations in the country to create a specialized unit to serve the Asian and Pacific Islander community in the 1990s. To serve our clients:
  • All of LAFLA’s offices are staffed with bilingual Spanish-speaking receptionists and intake paralegals.
  • LAFLA operates Asian-language hotlines in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Khmer.
  • LAFLA staff members speak Spanish (more than 50%), Armenian, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Farsi, Japanese, Khmer, French, and German.
  • We conduct regular legal clinics in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Khmer
  • Our diverse staff receives regular training to better serve clients from the many different populations represented in Los Angeles
LAFLA has a long history of advocating for court access for people who are limited English proficient. As with physical access, it is inherently unfair for a court to deny access by not providing interpretation to someone who does not speak English or has limited English skill. To help ensure access to courts:
  • In December 2010, LAFLA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against the Superior Court of Los Angeles County for violating Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act
  • As a result of the complaint, LAFLA has regularly communicated with the DOJ to help ensure better access for limited English proficient speakers.
  • In 2013, LAFLA recommended to the California Judicial Council that all litigants in all court proceedings have language access, including in civil court, by 2017
  • In 2015, a LAFLA attorney was appointed to the Judicial Council’s Language Access Plan Implementation Task Force
  • LAFLA has actively participated in the task force, and continues to fight for language access implementation and improvement
  • As a result of these efforts, the Los Angeles Superior Court now offers interpreters in civil proceedings for all litigants in family law, civil harassment, unlawful detainer, conservatorship, guardianship, small claims and limited jurisdiction civil cases (disputes involving $25,000 or less)
  • In September 2016, the Los Angeles Superior Court reached an historic agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice based on LAFLA’s complaint, which included provisions to provide free interpretation services for all court proceedings, provide language services outside the courtroom at counters and other public areas, translate court documents and other materials, post signs notifying litigants of the availability of interpretation, translate key pages on the court website, provide training for court staff and monitor complaints.