Tips for Hiring a Legal Interpreter

Legal Interpreter

When a non-English speaker is being deposed, a legal interpreter serves as an officer of the court, assisting in oral communication between witness and attorney while remaining impartial and unbiased.  CompuScripts Court Reporters is experienced with the use of legal interpretation in deposition settings.  Here are the things paralegals should know when hiring a legal interpreter.

Interpreter vs. Translator

When a paralegal is preparing for a deposition with a non-English speaker, it is important to know the difference between an interpreter and a translator.  An interpreter facilitates immediate spoken communication between speakers of different languages, while a translator communicates the meaning of text from one language to another.  The National Center for State Courts states that the interpreter should have “educated, native-like mastery” of both English and the second language, as well as the type of general knowledge that two years of higher education would provide.

All Interpretation Is Not Equal

When visiting a foreign country, precise interpretation of one language to another is not a requirement, but a legal interpreter is held to a higher standard than a person who is merely bilingual.  While a bilingual speaker may paraphrase or omit aspects of the interpretation, the legal interpreters who serve in depositions have a duty “…to conserve every element of information contained in a source language communication when it is rendered in the target language,” according to the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules, Rule 511.  Every spoken statement should be interpreted, even if it is non-responsive or rambling, and legal interpreters must never use their own words or expressions.  If an interpreting problem exists, such as the need to communicate the spirit of humor or colloquialism, the legal interpreter should ask permission from the deposing attorney to explain the issue before offering an interpretation.

Specific Legal Interpreter Needs

Many colleges and universities, such as Boston University, issue certificates in legal interpretation.  A legal interpreter certificate insures that the holder understands the protocol and expectations associated with legal proceedings.  According to the United States Courts,  “The parties involved may use specialized and legal terminology, formal and informal registers, dialect and jargon, varieties in language and nuances of meaning.”   Depending on the specific nature of the litigation, however, the paralegal may look for additional qualifications when hiring a legal interpreter.  For cases that are highly technical or medical, such as construction cases or international contract cases, the interpreter must have command of the relevant vocabulary in both languages.  Under these circumstances, the paralegal or attorney should request a meeting with the interpreter in advance of the deposition to assess his or her abilities.

If you are a paralegal or lawyer in need of legal interpretation, accurate communication is important. CompuScripts Court Reporters is experienced in securing legal interpreters if you are questioning someone under oath.  CompuScripts has conference rooms in the Upstate, Midlands, and Low Country of South Carolina, and we network with firms across the nation and worldwide to accommodate the location and service the court-reporting needs of your deposition.  To schedule a legal interpreter for your depositions, please contact our staff.