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What Attorneys Need to Know About Legal Translators and Legal Interpreters

Case law, court and public may use the words “translator” and “interpreter” interchangeably. But savvy attorneys who understand that these words refer to the members of two different professions, would be able to work with translators and interpreters more effectively.

Hardly a week goes buy without an attorney or a law office staff requesting a “deposition translator”, or a “legal document interpreter”. In fact, case law, courts and the public often use the terms "translator" and "interpreter" interchangeably - and even refer to “court interpreters” as “court translators”.

Attorneys who want to receive the best possible legal translation and interpreting services when representing a culturally and linguistically diverse clients or defending against non-English-speaking litigants would benefit from knowing that the terms “translators” and “interpreters” actually refer to members of two different professions.

Legal translators translate written documents- contracts, briefs, patents, litigation documents- and legal interpreters interpret spoken words- during hearings, depositions, trials, IMEs.

So next time you firm needs to depose a Chinese-speaking witness it would make sense to request a Mandarin deposition interpreter, if the witness is from mainland China. And if you need to have a contract translated from English into Greek to ask for a Greek translator.

In other words, legal translators translate legal documents, and legal interpreters interpret speech in court-related proceedings.
There exist some language professionals who are great at both translating the written word and interpreting the spoken word. But more often than not, they are an exception, not a rule.

So next time you are looking for a deposition interpreter, your interests would be better served by hiring an experienced deposition interpreter rather than a translator whose scope of experience would be limited to the area of document translation. Conversely, it would make little sense to ask your deposition interpreter to translate a litigation documents that will be submitted into evidence if that language professional has no prior legal document translation experience.

By All Language Alliance, Inc.
Legal Translation Services for Attorneys, Lawyers, Corporate Legal Departments, Legal Professionals
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nina Ivanichvili
All Language Alliance, Inc. is a trusted legal translation company providing certified translations, legal document translations and deposition interpreting services in more than 100 foreign languages. Subscribe to All Language Alliance, Inc.'s legal translation blog Translation for Lawyers.

Copyright All Language Alliance, Inc.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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