Thinking of becoming a Legal Interpreter?

Here at ISL we have put together 5 top tips to help anyone considering taking the leap and accepting their first Legal Interpreting booking.

1. Terminology

Imagine yourself in a court room, interpreting between the Judge and the accused, and the Judge says a complex legal term and you have no idea what this means in your native language or what the direct equivalent is. You must prepare yourself for any potential situations involving complex terms. You can do this by compiling a glossary of legal terms. This is easy to do. It involves a little research and practice but it is so useful and convenient to have these glossaries to hand when at a legal Interpreting assignment. Here I have included a few websites that may prove useful to give you a head start:

2. Further details

Some language service providers and agencies are very vague when offering assignments. So it is important to gather as much information from them as possible so you can do your job correctly. Do you know everything about the offered assignment? Where is it? What is it about? Who will be present? Is it face to face, telephone or video remote? Who are you interpreting for? You can only prepare for an assignment once you know all the details about it. If you feel like the information given by the agency isn’t sufficient, ask for more!


3. Professional Etiquette

It may seem obvious but it’s so essential. If you were attending a court case you must be dressed appropriately, a Judge can actually ask you to leave the court if he or she thinks you are not dressed or acting appropriately. Here are a few resources and examples of an Interpreters code of conduct:

4. Mode of Interpreting

Are you familiar with all modes of interpreting?  Consecutive, simultaneous, whispered, sight translation etc.?  As a legal interpreter, it is highly likely that you will need to perform each mode of interpreting and know when to apply them. If there are aspects of interpreting where you feel you need to improve your understanding, it may be worthwhile to undertake a course or qualification to get your skills up to date.


5. Court Room preparations

There are lots of preparation steps to perform before a legal interpreting assignment begins.

Position: Before the assignment begins, you will need to ensure you are positioned appropriately, ensuring that everyone in the room can hear and see you clearly.

Introduction: It is important to introduce yourself, your role and responsibilities so that all parties involved in the assignment are aware of what you are there to do.

Can everyone understand you: It’s also important that you clarify that all parties can understand you. You may have an accent or may have a different dialect to that of the Non-English speaker. This must be made clear at the start of the assignment so relevant actions can be taken.

Note taking: During any interpreting assignment you are permitted to take notes. Note taking is a very effective technique as it helps you remember large chunks of information. Make it known to the professional at the start of the assignment that you will be making notes to ensure you correctly interpret everything that is said. You must destroy these notes after the assignment to avoid breach of confidentiality.

court room, council chambers

If you have not yet received your first legal interpreting booking, ask yourself these questions: have I registered with the relevant language service providers? How good is my CV? Are my skills, experience and qualifications sufficient? Have I exposed myself enough to companies and agencies?

If you want to maximise your chances of being recognised, register and become a part of as many groups as possible.

  • NRPSI: They regulate the interpreting profession in the UK. They are an independent, voluntary public interest body and their core role is to ensure that good standards within the profession are consistently maintained for the benefit of the public and interpreters. Become a member of their register and you will be open to receive direct bookings from companies, the Police and Home Office, plus many more.
  • ITI: ITI has over 3000 interpreter and translator members who specialise in more than 100 languages and dialects from around the world. They maintain the ITI directory of qualified professional translators and interpreters, who have been assessed according to their strict admission criteria. Since 1986 they have continued to represent the translation and interpreting industry at the highest levels. They support government, businesses and organisations in locating the right translation and interpreting resources for their needs. They are also a key resource for information about the translation and interpreting industry.
  • ACCI: ACCI (the Association of Certified Interpreters) is the global body for professional interpreters. Founded in 2013 by Pawel Janicki as the Association of Qualified Translators and Interpreters; in 2016 they became the only organisation focusing solely on the profession of a language interpreter.
  • Hubstaff Talent: Hubstaff Talent is a 100 percent free freelance website where businesses and freelancers can connect – no mark-ups and no fees. Once freelancers create a profile, businesses will be able to search for them based on skills, experience, location or availability and contact the freelancer directly if they feel they’d be a good fit for their team. Freelancers can also browse through hundreds of remote positions on the Hubstaff Talent Remote Job Board.
  • Linguist Directory: Create your page and start promoting your language services. Join a community of over 150 professional and highly qualified translators and interpreters in the UK and receive job offers from businesses and individuals.

Further your job opportunities today!

This blog is brought to you by Tess Wilkinson, Learning and Development Specialist, International School of Linguists.