Modern law firms handle different types of clients and some even venture globally, requiring legal interpreting services to properly communicate with clients who speak different languages.
A law firm deals with government institutions, lawyers, courts, business organizations and individual clients regularly. To serve the linguistic needs of their clients from time to time, legal interpreting services has become an essential part of their service.
The Need for Legal Interpreting Services
A law firms handles various types of legal matters every day. It could be about law enforcement or court proceedings, corporate contracts, real estate settlements and other legal matters. With the increasing number of immigrants in the United States alone, the possibility of having non-English speaking clients is high.
In the field of law, proper and precise communication is crucial. Thus, when interviewing or meeting with clients who have limited English proficiency, there should be an interpreter to facilitate communication.
A professional and qualified legal interpreter understands the law, culture and language of the country where the foreigner is in and where he or she came from. The legal interpreter fully understands the code of ethics to ensure that they perform professionally and objectively, without showing any bias.
Here are some of the situations where a legal interpreter is needed.
1. When taking depositions/testimonies
An English-speaking lawyer who needs to record the official statement of a non-English speaking deponent, should have an interpreter present to help eliminate the language gap. The interpreter ensures that the information exchange is accurate and fair. Since the interpreter is trained to read non-verbal cues, it can help to ensure that he or she is doing an accurate interpretation of the message and the intent the deponent wants to convey. Moreover, the presence of an interpreter can help to settle the nerves of an anxious deponent with limited English proficiency, which reassures the person that he or she is not being put at a disadvantage.
2. During interviews and negotiations
There are many situations where parties need to negotiate or be interviewed in front of a lawyer. The issues could be about contracts, assets, properties, custodies, alimonies or financial settlements. These are all sensitive issues and some have time constraints. Thus, the law firm has to get things right the first time and the organization can do it with the help of a legal interpreter. A law firm can hire a legal interpreting company to provide over-the-phone interpreting or on site interpreting, using simultaneous or consecutive interpreting for negotiations and interviews. For legal documents, a law firm needs legal translation services.
A law firm needs an interpreter when recording business meetings, taking statements from clients, examinations under oath, during insurance investigations and other situations, including independent medical examinations.
3. Legal trials and court hearings
In a court hearing or a legal trial, every person who is involved has the right to be heard. If some of the individuals cannot speak the prevailing language, an interpreter should be available. Everyone should be able to understand the proceedings and the exchange of information. Some courts pay for the services of court interpreters but in many civil cases, the individual who needs an interpreter must hire and pay for the service. So if the law firm has access to legal interpreters, they can provide one for the person they represent to ensure that there would be no failure and errors in the communication.
4. Attorney-client meetings
Meetings between an attorney and his clients are essential. But it is difficult to anticipate who the attorney would be meeting in an emergency. Sometimes an attorney has to immediately schedule a meeting with a client who does not speak English. To ensure that the communication goes smoothly and the discussion is understood by both parties, it is essential to have a legal interpreter.
5. Changes in the Legal World
Although English is still the dominant language used in business around the world, many countries are no longer monolingual. To facilitate your law firm’s growth, improve your revenue and be a global law practitioner, it is vital to have accurate communication at all times. Most industries require legal services, therefore, law firms are likely to handle multilingual clients as well. For example, U.S. immigration attorneys and international lawyers often use translators and interpreters while documenting and processing applications and other papers of people coming from other countries who wish to enter the United States.
However, it is projected that law firms will soon have more witness testimonies, documents and contracts that are not written in English. Likewise, law firms may have to present their English documents and other legal papers to a foreign tribunal or audience, necessitating the legal translation services. Even if you have bilingual staff, it is not possible to cover all the languages that your future clients would be speaking.
Thus, for law firms to extend their services and reach people who are not English-speakers, within the United States and outside the country, they should have regular and immediate access to legal interpreters and translators. This is the most viable way to serve and communicate effectively with foreign clients.
Things to Consider When Hiring Legal Interpreting Services
We have already established that one of the ways to improve a law firm’s services is to have access to legal interpreting services. The U.S. population speaks about 350 languages (2015) and the nation has over 60 million (2015) people who are bilingual. The top languages with more than one million speakers are:
- Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)
Chances are more law firms around the United States will be having clients who speak any of these languages. With the amount of direct interactions of attorneys with their non-English speaking clients, hiring a language services company is not a luxury but something that it crucial to a law practice.
Therefore, when you are going to hire a translation and interpretation company, it is vital to consider a variety of things.
1. House calls
The company should be able to have a translator to work with you in the office, especially if you have various discovery documents written in different languages. A translator would know which of the documents are relevant to the cases you are handling. If the translator can be present to help sort the documents before the actual translation, it would save your law firm time and money, as only the relevant documents would be translated.
2. Privacy and security
Security and privacy of all information is important to a law firm and you should hire an agency that has nondisclosure agreements. You should look for a translation company with subject matter experts, who understand the code of ethics of their company and your law firm as well.
3. Rush projects
Time is essential to lawyers. Therefore, you should hire a translation company that can quickly respond to your requests at any time of the day. You need to check how the agency’s pricing is affected by expedited work.
4. Service contract
It is better if you can find a translation and interpreting agency that offers a full service contract. This means that the agency will be able to handle small and large jobs, since your translation and interpreting needs often vary, depending on the project and the clients.
5. Track record
Look for a language services provider that has a proven track record in legal translation and legal interpreting services. Moreover, you have to check their work process. You need to know how they handle clients, how the translation and interpreting processes work and how they ensure accuracy of their work.
Discuss pricing with the language services provider as they may offer you better savings for a full service contract. You can either be charge by the hour or per project for translation and interpreting, while there are agencies that charge translation on a per word basis.
7. Compliance with legal requirements
Ensure that the translation and interpreting company you hire conforms to legal requirements. Court interpreters are often court-certified. Some courts offer interpreting services free of charge. Some require individuals to pay for their own interpreters. Some legal interpreters have to meet the standards set by the court. For translated documents, some courts have rules on how the documents should be presented. It is important to know how the translation and interpreting agency you are considering complies with the legal requirements, both in the United States and overseas.
Hiring a legal interpreting service is an added expense to a law firm. But this is something that you can’t do without, given that the influx of immigrants necessitates the use of interpreters and translators to bridge the language gap.
Hire a Legal Interpreting Service – It is a Wise Decision!
In the United States alone, a law firm is likely to encounter clients speaking languages other than English. Thus, it has become necessary for most law firms to have immediate access to legal interpreting services. A legal translation agency like Day Translations, Inc. has several native speaking professional translators and interpreters who are experts in legal language and terminology. They are subject matter experts who live in-country, allowing us to connect our clients to our translators or interpreters immediately wherever they are located. Likewise, we are open 24/7, 365 days of the year to serve anytime. So, whenever you need legal translation or legal interpreting services, all you need to do is call us at 1-800-969-6853 or send us an email at Contact us.