What is a legal interpreter’s role? When should you call on their services and what skills should they have? Here is an overview of what you need to know about the profession of legal interpretation.
A legal interpreter is a professional who can translate exchanges between two parties that speak different languages, for example in: court hearings and trials, contract negotiations, depositions, witness hearings, interrogations at police stations, exchanges with administrative authorities, etc.
There are several kinds of legal interpreting services:
- Liaison or consecutive interpreting: the legal interpreter translates throughout the conversation between the two speakers (each speaker must therefore pause to allow the interpreter to translate)
- Simultaneous interpretating
- Telephone interpreting
- Video remote interpreting, via a videoconference platform.
Legal interpreters first and foremost should have a thorough command of a given language pairing, but also a broad knowledge of the legal systems, local legislation and cultural norms and customs of the country concerned. They must also be familiar with all the terminology specific to the field of law in question (criminal law, civil law, company law, etc.).
In addition, a legal interpreter must possess a high degree of professionalism, a strong work ethic, oral fluency, concentration and a very good memory.
They must be able to translate complex dialogues completely and accurately to avoid misunderstandings or ambiguities. These qualities are essential, as the slightest error in interpretation can compromise the quality of the exchanges.
Sometimes the legal interpreter is a sworn interpreter, but this is not always the case.
In response to the health crisis, telephone and videoconference interpretation services have developed significantly and have become increasingly popular. Many agencies offer remote legal interpreting services.
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