Legal Translator FAQ - A tall building in a city - New York County Supreme Court


FAQ— Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Interpretation

Legal interpreting cuts across all sectors and aspects of society, and Capital Linguists provides highly qualified court interpreters, or legal interpreters, at any place and time.

We also perform written language services, called certified translation service, in any language.  Our legal document translation services are used in patent law, IPR- Intellectual Property Rights, or any other kind of dispute.

Consecutive interpreting is recommended for court cases because of the precision required.

There are many, many interpreting agencies for you to choose from— we’ve built our reputation on the highest quality linguistic personnel for your legal needs.

For certain languages, the best legal interpreters are certified and experienced. In other languages, no certification is available, so you have to rely on a reputable certified translation service. Because we also work as a court interpreter, and we stake our reputation on it, we know how to screen for a top notch interpreter in any language!
For example, like most states, the New York court system officially certifies its large demographic languages like: Albanian, Arabic, BCS (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian), Bengali, Cantonese, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Wolof. To obtain an interpreter in any other language, Capital Linguists must check the interpreter’s other qualifications, such as interpreting experience, reviews, and reputation.

Chinese and other East Asian languages are our specialty. We handle all languages, of course, but we are especially versed in the intricacies of languages that write and print in characters or special scripts, such as Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, or Chinese. Each of these major languages has special characteristics.
Special care must be taken when translating these languages because a seemingly small translation error could have a surprisingly impactful on meaning in these languages.

In fact, most cases are won or lost during the pretrial period of deposition! During the fact finding process, the parties often decide to settle. If it is an important case, the quality and accuracy of deposition is very important, and the highest standard of interpreting used.
At the same time, information gathered may end up being used in court, one more reason to use the best possible interpreter available.

When the lawyer is asking questions, they should always be phrased just as if the interpreter were not there. Never ask the interpreter: “When did he/she realize something was going on?” It is better to speak directly to the witness through the interpreter: “When did you realize something was going on?”
Likewise, the interpreter must answer in the voice of the witness, true even to the level of formality and tone of voice. The interpreter should ask questions of the witness in the lawyer’s manner of speech, in the witness’ language.

Yes, the interpreter is sworn to the highest ethical standard, promising not to prompt or help the witness, or perform the interpretation if there is a conflict of interest. The interpreter is sworn in just before the deposition or court session begins, and immediately interprets the swearing-in of the witness.

The interpreter should have made a list of all the names of the principals in the case before hand, as well as any legal jargon or concepts that may be used. The best professional interpreters have been prepared throughout their lives by their professional and life experience, as well as advanced study.

When using a court or legal interpreter, allow pauses for interpretation, and try to maintain an interpreter-friendly rhythm. Ignoring these norms could result in a poor deposition result.

Sometimes it is impossible for the interpreter to proceed without making some clarification to the witness about the meaning of the interrogating lawyer. The interpreter is a hard working professional, and you can be sure he or she is merely performing due diligence in an effort to make sure the communication and deposition crystal clear. The legal professional is within his or her rights to find out what is being discussed in the second language, but those who routinely use an interpreter know that the interpreter is doing their absolute professional and ethical best to perform the task at hand.

The interpreter is expected to demonstrate the cultural bias of the witness. The interpreter is required to interpret the witness’ words precisely, choosing language that reflects the witness’s self-expression in their own language.
Professionalism and neutrality are the watchwords of the professional court or legal interpreter. Without adding any information or bias, the interpreter must deliver the testimony without summarizing or paraphrasing.
A professional court interpreter will refuse any case in which he or she has a personal interest, or a personal relationship with any of the parties. The confidentiality of the proceedings are inviolate, and a professional would never accept a legal interpreting assignment if they didn’t have the needed specialized skills or knowledge to do the job.

The art of consecutive interpreting is generally used in the court room or deposition. The interpreter uses specialized notation to help guide his or her memory in the process of repeating what was said absolutely verbatim. A lawyer’s language is a special art form itself, and the interpreter will need great skill, and all the tricks of the trade, to keep up with a lawyer’s speech.
An interpreter’s notes are never used as a crutch as they interpret, but to support his or her exquisite concentration and memory. The interpreter will always check and re-check any questionable term or phrase until they are sure that they’ve heard correctly.
A witness or even a lawyer may try to engage in small talk before the deposition or during breaks, but the interpreter must only interpret, and save their concentration for interpreting.
Occasionally, a court or legal interpreter will be criticized by one of the parties in an effort to support their case. The interpreter must maintain composure and knows it is part of the job as well.

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