If you are part of a law firm or legal team, and you find yourself not being able to adequately communicate to a non-native English-speaking client in your language or theirs, consider hiring a legal interpreter. A legal interpreter is a professional interpreter who specializes in providing foreign language interpretation for matters relating to the legal field. Legal interpreters are needed for a variety of situations: trials, depositions, interrogations, hearings, and more.
One thing to keep in mind is that legal interpreters, like all interpreters, won’t give you an exact word-for-word translation. Rather, legal interpreters paraphrase the message of the conversation and communicate that between the two parties. When you need to find a great legal interpreter, here are the qualifications to look out for:
Extensive Understanding of Terminology
A legal interpreter should not only be familiar with legal terminology but have an in-depth understanding of what the legal terms, also called terms of art, truly mean. Legal interpreters usually help people navigate not only language barriers but also can aid in deciphering the complicated “legalese” so often used in legal settings. Legal interpreters should be able to expand upon or clarify a specific word in plain language when requested. Additionally, legal interpreters may realize that although a legal term exists in English, it may not exist in the target language. Therefore, the legal interpreter needs to know what word or phrase may be an adequate substitute in the target language and when further explanation may be necessary.
Lack of Bias
Legal interpreters should not alter the translation from source to target language by adding their own feelings or emotions into how they communicate. In many cases, legal interpreters are working with very sensitive cases where it can be hard to be neutral. It’s critical that the interpreters do not show emotions – even non-verbally or via inflections of their voice. Neutrality is what distinguishes a professional from a novice when it comes to legal interpreters.
When you’re navigating a trial or deposition, the last thing you want to worry about is your legal interpreter. Legal interpreters should not only harness the communication techniques expected of all professional interpreters but should also be familiar with the nuances of courtroom etiquette. Real-life courtrooms are nothing like the courtrooms shown on primetime television and interpreters should act accordingly. Professional legal interpreters know the court-imposed dress codes, how to address the judge, prosecutor, and defense lawyer, and the basic proceedings of various types of cases.
Almost all legal matters are highly confidential. So, finding a legal interpreter that adheres strictly to confidentiality standards is a necessity. You wouldn’t want an interpreter to be negligent with you or your clients’ information. In fact, an interpreter that is careless may hurt your client’s case or impact proceedings in a negative way. Like with medical interpreting, disclosing confidential information can result in legal action taken against the interpreter if it is seen as a threat to the sanctity of the court or endangerment of the client.
You want to make sure that your legal interpreter is based close to where you or your clients are. Familiarity with the local court systems and communities can increase the accuracy of interpreting. Furthermore, you’ll want it to be easy to decide which interpreter is best; you shouldn’t have to navigate multiple translation agencies or sift through pages of contracts upfront. With Acutrans, getting the process started is as simple as the click of a button. Request an on-site legal interpreter today via Acutrans.