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How do lawyers and their clients bridge languages and cultures?

Reynolds, Judith 2016. How do lawyers and their clients bridge languages and cultures? Presented at: International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication (IALC) Conference, 25 - 27 November 2016.

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Abstract

In this presentation I will draw from data collected as part of a linguistic ethnographic study of intercultural and multilingual communication in the UK asylum process. The relevant part of the study followed one immigration lawyer as she advised clients from a range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds on asylum and refugee family reunion applications. In the UK, public funding for legal advice and interpreting provision in these areas is limited, making the job of giving and receiving advice across linguistic and cultural divides more challenging. The data reveal the diverse ways in which the lawyer and her clients work to bridge these divides. I will firstly demonstrate how language mediation was achieved in this workplace in different ways. These included the use of non--‐professional language brokers, sourcing alternative means of providing professional interpretation services, and the use of the client’s own linguistic resources through English as an additional language, all combined with strategies of linguistic accommodation and flexibility in the face of uncertainty. I will also discuss how different technologies, such as written documentation, telephones, and internet communication technologies, were drawn on by participants as language mediating tools. I will secondly consider how cultural divides were bridged by participants in these meetings. I shall discuss the role played by cultural intermediaries such as NGO support workers and language brokers. I will also demonstrate the lawyer’s key role as cultural mediator, showing how she draws on her specialist knowledge of the cultural backgrounds of her clients, and the ‘small culture’ of UK immigration law and its application, to build a relationship of trust with the client, help the client to understand the legal processes, and advise them on what needs to be done to remedy the situation when these two cultures are in conflict.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 17:08
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/120986

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