Legal Interpreting – How does it work?

by | Sep 17, 2021

Let’s dive into the world of legal interpreting so that we can develop a deeper understanding of what it is and what a legal interpreter does. At Day Interpreting we cater to all your on-demand interpreting needs, including legal interpreting.

We won’t delay any longer, so let’s get right down to business and learn more about how legal interpreting works.


What is Legal Interpreting?

Legal interpreters are very skilled in their craft and work with spoken words. Legal interpreters work in a number of legal settings to include depositions, court, on the phone, on video calls and in interviews. 

Legal Interpretation happens either simultaneously or consecutively. At times, the job of a legal interpreter can be stressful especially when the need arises to keep up the pace with speakers and their interpretations. If an interpretation is not done properly it can lead to serious legal ramifications. Therefore accuracy is a legal interpreter’s top priority. 


Legal Interpreting, a highly skilled profession 

Fast thinking is a major skill many legal interpreters have. They are able to operate well on the spot and in the heat of the moment. Don’t be fooled however because legal interpreting is no walk in the park. This is especially critical when they have to translate from one language to another, all while having to be as close to being instantaneous as possible on top of everything. 

A highly skilled interpreter also thinks in a strategic way; adjustments are made quickly in their line of work as they make sure that the right words are used that fit the context of the conversation perfectly. 

If words or phrases are interpreted using the incorrect context, the risk exists for extreme legal ramifications to happen. 

As a highly skilled profession, legal interpreting is not only practiced in the confines of a courtroom. Instead, legal interpreters are able to assist during attorney-client conferences, when there are ongoing investigations by law enforcement, during depositions when there are witness interviews, and also real estate settlements. 

Other settings where legal interpreters give their services include administrative and legislative hearings, if there is a court-ordered treatment, and for legal education programs. As we stated before, failed or misunderstood interpretation is not an option due to the very high possibility of harsh and in some instances, irreversible consequences.


What do I have to do to become a legal interpreter?

Legal interpreters are always in high demand. With this in mind, doing training and becoming certified should be a goal of yours if you wish to become an interpreter within any legal setting. 

As stated before, interpreting in the legal field is highly specialized, which means you must become familiar with legal terms in your native language as well as in the language you’ll be interpreting. Of course, context must be taken into consideration to avoid any form or cause for mistakes.

An in-depth understanding of the law and the legal system is also a key requirement as well as the ability to work in teams and with deaf interpreters. There are many cases where hearing-impaired individuals are witnesses of crime for example and require the assistance of an interpreter in sign language to assist them. It’s a plus when an interpreter is also able to understand sign language to help bring everything together.

The world of legal interpreting can be very broad. Choose an area for specialization to begin your journey. 


In Summary

There are many dimensions when it comes to legal interpreting. It’s a very dynamic field of work that challenges interpreters to always be their best. Accuracy is what makes the job well done and nothing below that standard will do. We could take for example, when providing interpreting services for the police, an interpreter in this setting is governed by a different set of legal rules as opposed to when interpreting for the highly privileged attorney-client conferences. 

We mentioned accuracy as an important pillar for success in legal interpreting but interpreters must be governed by good ethical standards at all times as well. These standards are set in place to maintain confidentiality no matter the setting.

Before working with anyone, legal interpreters will give their clients guidelines for working with them in specific settings. 

Court interpreting is probably the most popular reason why someone may need a legal interpreter. Legal interpreters are actually officers of the court and are considered to be experts in their field of work. 

Similar to this fact, the experts here at DayInterpreting are on-demand phone interpreters who are available  24/7, 365 days per year. No matter your legal interpreting needs and no matter the language of focus, our human-powered interpretation services are available with just the click of a button.

Download the DayInterpreting app today to get started.


Kayan Milwood
Kayan Milwood

Kayan is a multi-talented writer based in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Her strong point is ideation and she loves to take on new challenges.

Kayan Milwood

Kayan is a multi-talented writer based in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Her strong point is ideation and she loves to take on new challenges.

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