In cases involving a Plaintiff or Defendant that doesn’t speak English, a court certified translator is usually required. Court certified translators are used in many different ways. They can assist technical and medical experts in communicating with the foreign language speaking client to explain technical aspects to the client or translate information from the client to the attorneys. Sometimes, they are even hired to be witnesses throughout the trial. Prior to serving as a legal translator in a court of law, the translator must show that they are a qualified translator or interpreter. Generally, a court will ask the translator to provide their academic and professional credentials and experience. When the court recognizes their proficiency in translation and interpretation, the individual is allowed to serve as the voice and ears of the non-English speaking client. A translator might also work with expert witnesses to translate and simplify complicated technical jargon into the language of the court. For instance, a U.S. jury would find it impossible to understand German speaking engineers that need to explain the workings of a steel cold rolling mill without a German to English translator. In this example, the court appointed translator will work with both the German Engineers and the court to ensure the jury understands the workings.
How to Find a Legal Translator
The supervising attorney is usually tasked with the responsibility for selecting a translator. However, sometimes the client might be asked, especially of the client is a manufacturer that might employ a team of translators. If the attorney or client needs to hire a translator, they might turn to a variety of sources, including:
• American Translators Association
• Other law firms
• Professional Technical Trade Groups
• The Internet
Evaluating Legal Translators and Interpreters
It’s advisable for attorneys to request references and talk to attorneys who used prospective translators in the past in order to get an evaluation of the translator’s capabilities. Such things as the demeanor of the translator, the ability of the translator to explain technical and legal matters, and the overall professionalism of the translator are critical. Furthermore, it’s important to realize that a good legal translator can cost over $1,000/day. Therefore, the law firm must make effective and efficient use of the translator’s time. A professional translator charges for travel time, travel costs, meals, and hotels, in addition to the time they spend in court and in meeting with attorneys. Therefore, advanced planning of any meetings with the translator to make the most of the translator’s time is necessary.