With the recent news of one state making court and legal interpreters mandatory and free of charge, other states have risen to the occasion, creating a call for interpreters in the courtroom. Since a 2011 ruling, it’s mandatory that an interpreter is present when requested.
Here are some things to consider to make the experience for both you and your interpreter easier in an already stressful situation.
Is the legal interpreter qualified? Before you decide to work with a legal interpreter, do they have the prerequisites that would make them adequate for the job? Make sure they are certified, and are proficient in your language as well as the target language. Even if you are fluent in English, courtroom and legal jargon can be incredibly intimidating. Imagine trying to express your thoughts and receive information containing legal terms and not understanding their definitions. While each state may have different requirements, all legal interpreters go through a battery of vigorous tests which include and comprehension of vocabulary and definitions of legal terms.
Cultural sensitivity – As always, cultural sensitivity will be a definitive factor while working with an interpreter. It goes without saying that obtaining accurate information is essential. Having an interpreter that knows how to translate a string of sentences that may contain regional slang is vital, especially with a pending legal situation. If descriptions of events need to be recounted, the interpreter will be able to take that information and deliver an accurate response.
Be a neutral presence – Whatever the legal case may be, the interpreter must be neutral to the situation, and provide translations that are void of personal opinions. A professional will function as an avenue of communication between yourself and the person you need to deliver information to, and nothing more. The interpreter should also never provide advice in regards to statements made, or any of the content pertaining to the case. Make sure that you are speaking to the individual, and avoid speaking directly to the interpreter. The interpreter should never become part of the conversation.
Adheres to professional code of conduct – Due to the extreme sensitivity of information, an interpreter will never disclose the confidential material they have received. Interpreters are held by strict guidelines and code of conduct that will be adhered to whether in the court of law, or in a law office.
When choosing an interpreter for legal needs, it’s important that they are not only qualified, but also possess the highest ethical standards and comply with all state mandated codes of conduct. If you are seeking a professional legal interpreter, we offer several different on-location services, and can be on site within 30 minutes. We have 2,000 professional interpreters knowledgeable in over 200 languages, available 365 days a year. Contact us to learn more!