The Role of Legal Interpreting in Community Outreach

Although legal interpreters are typically associated with the courtroom, they serve a vital role when it comes to community outreach. Organizations that provide legal services, advice, and education rely on interpreters to communicate with community members who are deaf or have limited English skills.

Why Work with a Legal Interpreter?

Hiring a legal interpreter can be costly. Organizations that have limited budgets may be tempted to ask bilingual employees or other community members to interpret for them. Yet they don’t always make the best interpreters. Why? Because it takes more than being bilingual.

Bilingual employees may have a strong legal vocabulary in both languages, but unless they’ve studied interpreting, they may struggle to keep up. Important information could be lost or misinterpreted.

Relying on community members, especially family members, is an even poorer choice. Community members not only lack training, but may be bias and could purposely mis-interpret or leave out information to protect a friend or family member.

However, you can avoid these problems by working with a legal interpreter. Not only are legal interpreters fluent in English and another language, but they:

  • Have completed specialized training to perform their job.
  • Understand the legal process and state laws.
  • Are neutral parties who have agreed to follow a code of ethics established by the state.

As you can see, a qualified legal interpreter can actually save you time and money by getting the job right the first time. And even if you’re still worried about budget constraints, there are a few ways to lower your expenses.

Interpreter Costs and Government Agencies 

If you work with a government agency, you won’t need to pay for an interpreter. It’s the agency’s responsibility to provide an interpreter either in-person, over-the-phone, or via video remote.

According to the Department of Justice, government agencies shouldn’t rely on community organizations to provide an interpreter, serve as interpreters, or pay for any reasonable accommodations.

In fact, government agencies must use neutral and accurate parties as interpreters during an investigation. If they rely on community-provided interpreters, it may trigger ethics questions around receiving a “gift” of interpreting from the organization.

The Benefits of Remote Interpreting

If you’re not working with a government agency and need an interpreter, remote interpreting is a more affordable alternative to bringing someone onsite. While in-person interpreting is often best, it’s not always possible. Fortunately, over-the-phone and video remote interpreting make it easy to communicate with someone who has limited English skills, without paying the additional expenses. Plus, video remote makes it possible assist someone who is deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL).

Legal Interpreting and Boostlingo

Boostlingo’s interpreting platform makes it easy to schedule an interpreter through your language company. You can also call an interpreter from the Boostlingo Professional Interpreters Network (BPIN) on-demand via video remote or over-the-phone. The interpreters in our BPIN speak over 200 languages, including ASL.

Want to learn more about how Boostlingo can help? Contact us today to schedule your free demo!