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Everything you need to know about the legal interpreting profession

todo lo que necesitas saber sobre la profesion de un traductor o interprete jurado
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To be a legal interpreter you need to have an in-depth training in interpreting. This is not the only characteristic needed to develop a career in this interesting profession, but it is the one which stands out most. The practice of law requires professionals with certain training who are trusted with very specific tasks. Keep reading. We tell you everything in this post.

What is a legal interpreter?

As many professionals in the industry say, a legal interpreter is the emotional interlocutor between the accused and the judge. Often, it is common not to know how to tell the exact difference between a translator and interpreter. Let us clear things up: translators translate written documents while interpreters transmit oral messages from one language to another. In our case, we should also make the difference between “court interpreting” and “sworn interpreting” clear. It can seem like they’re the same thing, but in reality they are completely different forms of interpreting.

Court interpreting, however, as its name suggests, fundamentally takes place as part of the proceedings of a trial. In it, the interpreter is the mediator, the communicator between the accused and the judge. This being the case, it’s obvious to point out that the interpreter must guarantee the maximum level of effectiveness in the communication between both sides, independent of the language that each one speaks.

It is a type of interpreting that requires excellent linguistic competency. In addition, the professional legal interpreter is required, and assumed, to have a very broad level of expertise. Including in-depth knowledge of civil, criminal, and labor law, or whatever the case may demand.

What are the qualities and skills of a legal interpreter?

Those who work in it agree that it is an exciting profession, but it is not exempt from its share of situations with a very high level of stress. It requires special characteristics, especially the obligatory nature of behaving in a professional and impartial manner at all times.

Among a legal interpreter’s qualities, the main one is the perfect command of, as a minimum, two languages. What is more, a broad understanding of the judicial systems, local legislation and all of the social and cultural codes and customs of the country that they deal with. They must be professional and honest, have a good image, oral fluency, work ethic, memory and a great ability to concentrate. It is important to bear in mind that being able to comprehensively and precisely translate tense and often complex and incoherent dialogues helps to avoid ambiguities. As well as misunderstandings between the judge and the accused. An interpreter’s error in a trial can compromise both interlocutors.

Professional competencies? There are many, varied situations. Legal interpreters intervene in all cases where multilingual exchanges need to be translated: declarations, interrogations, detentions in police stations, court processes and hearings, negotiations, etc. They even offer telephone services or videoconferences by remote interpreting.

Who can be a legal interpreter?

There is no one, single answer. There are those who say that it’s best to have a solid, previous training in the translation sector and to complement it with legal studies and knowledge. Others believe that even attorneys or lawyers who master languages can be legal interpreters. In our case, we believe neither one nor the other. Legal interpreters must be authentic professionals who are exclusively dedicated to their profession, with a broad and continuous training in translation and also in comparative law.

It is such a complex and important discipline that it is not mastered in a short period of time. Much less so by being the first to have a certain course or specialized master’s. What is more, the job involves multiple translation challenges, an added psychological component and a commitment to high professional standards.

The legal interpreter’s career in Spain

Currently, the profession is practiced in law firms, judicial institutions, courtrooms, etc. Although you can be hired privately, when the accused does not posses the sufficient economic resources, it is the justice system that assigns them an interpreter. Unlike sworn interpreting, it is not necessary to be recognized as a “sworn translator-interpreter” to professionally practice. A title awarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In Spain, the Professional Association of Court and Sworn Interpreters and Translators (APTIJ, Asociación Profesional de Traductores e Intérpretes Judiciales y Jurados), a non-profit organization, is in charge of uniting these professionals. They accept new associate members in accordance with a strict code of ethics across all their areas of activity, both police and legal.

To summarize, an interpreter’s conduct is crucial. In addition, bear in mind that their job depends on the success of many legal procedures. Whether attending a trial or celebrating a marriage with a foreign person in a civil court. A trusted interpreter can help you in various situations.

Do you have any more questions? At Blarlo, we work with an array of professionals who are quality legal interpreters. We can offer you personalized advice. Professional translation services for individuals and businesses which are adapted to your needs. Call us! We will be delighted to help you.

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish) Français (French) Deutsch (German)