Utilizing Support Personnel: The Interpreter
Legal support workers assist lawyers in the many tasks that sustain the functioning of a law firm. There are also many “support” workers such as court reporters and interpreters that are typically independent contractors who assist lawyers as well. While court reporters are exclusively found in courtrooms and deposition rooms, interpreters are common in legal, medical, and immigration settings.
However, interpreters who work in a legal context are set apart because of strict ethical and professional standards. Legal interpretation is divided into two main categories, judicial (court interpreting) and quasi-judicial (interpreting in other legal settings). Judiciary interpreters work in courtrooms and out-of-court settings, in any matter related to law or a legal case.
Legal Interpreters are required to be impartial officers of the court, with a duty to serve the judicial process. Interpreters are professionals who fulfill an essential role in the administration of justice to Limited-English-proficient (LEP) defendants, litigants, victims, and witnesses who are greatly dependent upon their services.
Many federal and state courts are required to provide interpreting services to LEP individuals, under the Civil Rights Act and other regulatory and statutory requirements imposed by federal and state law. Legal interpreters work in all types of courts: juvenile, municipal, state, or federal court, as well as in out-of-court settings such as attorneys’ offices, jails, law enforcement facilities, or other locations. They work on every kind of civil and criminal case at both the state and federal levels.
As a result of these stringent regulations, many states and the federal government have established certification requirements for professional interpreters who work in legal settings. These programs typically require interpreters to pass a certification examination and to regularly receive professional technical and ethical training. As one would expect, court interpreters are subject to codes of ethical practice known as the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) Code of Ethics. Federal and state courts also impose ethical standards.
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