Lawyers are smart, well-educated professionals. They are great at analyzing information, preparing convincing arguments and speaking in public. They are also always thinking quickly about what they need to accomplish, how long it should take and how to achieve it – their agenda is always at the front of their minds. It can be easy, therefore, for attorneys to lose sight of the fact that the professionals they work with may also be facing job challenges.
Being a legal interpreter is a satisfying and fulfilling career, but the situations in which legal interpreting services are needed can be stressful for everyone involved – including the legal interpreter. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when lawyers are in need of legal interpreting services:
Interpreting is complex. Legal interpreters are not just copying what a person says into another language in a simple way. They have to take into account differences in grammar and language structure, as well as vocabulary issues. Some languages will not have a word for a certain legal concept at all, and a legal interpreter still has to make that understandable.
Allow breaks. Research has shown that, without a 5- to 10-minute break every hour, the accuracy of a legal interpreter can falter after the first hour of work. Your legal interpreter wants to work as efficiently as possible, but the quality of the work is more important than how long it takes to accomplish it. The best solution for a very tight schedule is to have a team of two interpreters available so they can take turns giving each other breaks.
Talk slowly. However familiar a lawyer is with legal terms and the elements of a case, it is a good idea to consciously slow down your rate of speech when using a legal interpreter. Remember they are doing the very best job they can at all times, so give them the best possible chance to excel. Your legal interpreter will try very hard to interpret clearly and accurately, without asking you to pause. If they have to ask, you’re probably speaking too quickly.
A professional legal interpreter is a highly trained and competent part of your legal team. Treat them with the same respect you would any other expert. and your achievements will be exceptional.