Multilingual Legal Cases And How Interpreters Can Help

Being a defendant or a plaintiff in a court case can be a harrowing experience that lasts for months. Even more difficult is going through that process without being able to speak English. Court interpreters play a critical role in supporting defendants or plaintiffs who cannot effectively communicate. Court interpreters are highly trained and dedicated legal staff who ensure that everyone gets the best possible legal representation. This article will examine the role that court interpreters play, what defines a good interpreter, and what makes the interpreter profession so exciting.

Interpreters Are Vital To The Criminal Justice System

Defendants and plaintiffs that don’t speak English face challenges navigating the criminal justice system. They often don’t understand courtroom procedures or their rights under the law. The language barrier can also make it difficult for them to cooperate with their attorneys. Defendants need to be able to provide key information and help understand possible ways to structure their defense. Plaintiffs need to understand the strength of their case and the risk/benefit analysis when considering a settlement. A good interpreter can do more than just legal translations. A talented interpreter can understand the nuance in a lawyer’s questions and provide clients with the most comprehensive translation. Without interpreters, those who cannot speak English would be denied the full protection of the law.

Choosing The Right Interpreter Is Critical

There are several key criteria when selecting a professionally qualified court interpreter. The first thing clients should look for is a proven fluency in a specific language. This proficiency can be obtained through accreditation with the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, or other organizations. The second is specific experience with legal interpreting or supporting a legal team. Speaking the language is not enough. Court interpretation requires specific language skills beyond simple translation. The final criteria is positive references from trusted sources. Court interpreters need to handle confidential information and must have the highest integrity. Strong references from other attorneys or a judge can speak to the character of individual candidates.

Compensation Trends For Interpreters

There is always demand for skilled, accredited court interpreters. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interpreters earn an average of $47,000. Employers include federal or state court systems, law firms, or even individual clients. Several factors impact interpreter compensation. Formal education can boost earnings, especially for those with graduate degrees. Length of experience is another critical factor that impacts earnings. Interpreters with more than 10 years of experience tend to earn the highest salaries. As with any profession, geography plays a major factor as well. Interpreters in states like New York and California that have a higher cost of living earn more than those in other parts of the country. The demand for court interpreters will continue to grow as the U.S. population becomes more diverse. The BLS predicts that the court interpreter profession will grow by 18% through 2026. That means more opportunities for dedicated professionals committed to making a difference.

Court interpreters play a vital role in the criminal justice system. They provide a critical link between the court and parties that may not speak English well enough to understand the proceedings. A court interpreter with the right education, language skills, and experience can make a world of difference.


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