legal language services

High Demand for Court Interpreters:

Court interpreters play a vital role in our society, they help in providing justice for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals living in this diverse and evolving country. Their work allow individuals who do not speak or understand the English language the opportunity to hear and be heard in a court of law. Given the ever increasing migrant population, courtrooms across America are finding they’re in need of qualified court interpreters more than ever. Interpreters are used to bridge language gaps that enable LEP defendants and witnesses to communicate with the judge and attorneys and other courtroom officials. Court interpreters take their role very seriously due to the immense responsibility placed on their shoulders. Misinterpreting a word or not conveying the accurate meaning can cause unwanted and potentially negative life changing consequences for LEP individuals involved. Court interpreters are highly trained individuals who have skills that go far beyond just speaking two languages. Extensive training, experience, legal knowledge, the ability to follow a strict code of ethics, and great self control allow them to effectively and accurately transfer words, concepts and true understanding from one language into another while retaining cultural context.

Case and Point; The Importance In Hiring Qualified Interpreters:

Kammarkollegiet, the legal, financial and administrative services agency in Sweden stripped an interpreter of his license, once it was discovered he misinterpreted information during a murder trial. The interpreter was found to have significantly altered information, omitted information as well as included his own additions during the 5 hour long interpretation session. Hiring a reputable translation agency to provide you with a qualified and professional court interpreter, is the only way to ensure you’re receiving the best and most accurate service. “Ensuring a Successful Court Interpretation,”  explains the role of a court interpreter and why it’s crucial they have extensive experience interpreting in a legal setting in order to accurately convey not only the words but the true meaning and emotions behind what is being said under oath.

Helpful Tips to Apply When Working with a Court Interpreter:

Communicating with a person through the aid of an interpreter is challenging, being placed in a courtroom environment on top of that can double the stress. It’s important you’re aware of the do’s and don’ts involved in communicating with an LEP individual through the use of a court interpreter. The following is a list comprised of helpful tips that if applied can help reduce stress and increase accuracy as well as make cross-language communication easier.

  • Speak to the LEP individual in segments, pause after you’re finished talking and give the interpreter enough time to interpret.
  • Preparing your client or witness on how to speak through a court interpreter is very beneficial prior to being in the courtroom. This allows the LEP individual to know the rhythm of how an interpretation session goes and how to talk to the interpreter.
  • Provide contracts or legal documentation prior to the court appearance, most interpreters perform some level of preparation before the day of the interpretation, if possible.
  • Speak at an even pace and make sure you project your voice (don’t yell) so there is no question or misunderstanding in what you’re saying.
  • Speak directly to the LEP individual.
  • Wait until the interpreter is finished speaking before you begin speaking.
  • Be patient with the interpreter and the LEP individual. If asked to repeat something for further clarification, rephrase your wording and allow the time needed for everyone to get on the same page.
  • If it’s a lengthy time spent in the courtroom, give the interpreter breaks every 30 minutes, giving the interpreters brain time to regroup protects the accuracy of the interpretation.
  • Phrase your questions clearly and simply, getting straight to the point.
  • If needed allow enough time for the LEP individual and the court interpreter to introduce themselves. The interpreter may want to hear up close the speaking pattern of the LEP individual they will be working with before the LEP individual is on the stand.

What to Avoid While Working with a Court Interpreter:

  • Don’t expect a word for word translation, meanings and concepts are transferred because often times there’s not a direct translation of words from one language into another.
  • Interpreters will interpret everything you say, this is their job. If there is something you don’t want heard, don’t say it.
  • Don’t belittle the interpreter or LEP individual by continually asking if they understand. Just because a person doesn’t speak English doesn’t mean they have a lower intellect level.
  • Interpreters are there to interpret, they are not attorneys, psychologists or counselors; avoid asking them to provide opinions regarding the case.
  • If using acronyms make sure you explain what the acronym stands for and if using advanced legal terminology provide definitions and examples if need be.  
  • Avoid asking compound questions, this can muddy answers and take up time.
  • If you have any concerns regarding the interpreter, don’t wait until the end of the interpretation session to bring it up. Address any issues upfront, ultimately you want an accurate interpretation so any hindrance to that needs to be dealt with upfront.
  • Don’t expect the interpreter to clear up misunderstandings, if there’s something that was not communicated correctly it’s your job to ensure that the concept is made clear for the interpreter to then interpret.

Court interpreters are a solution to an issue that’s faced in America, their aid is beneficial to LEP individuals across the country. Language barriers don’t have to stand in the way of justice for the individuals who don’t speak English, these walls can be broken down and overcome with the proper use of professional court interpreters when legal matters arise. Knowing and applying the provided do’s and don’ts can ensure you have a successful court interpretation session and also ensure that all parties involved are able to understand and be understood despite language barriers. This can mean the difference between a life of freedom and a life-in-prison for the LEP individuals living in America.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 21 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at

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