Vetting partners for legal interpretation services can be a challenge, especially when the fast pace of the legal profession never slows down. However, paying attention to a few key factors from the outset can help you determine whether a language services provider (LSP) is worth pursuing.
Here are some expert tips for evaluating the quality level and reliability of a particular legal interpretation services provider.
1. Look for interpreters with specialized expertise.
As with any profession, some interpreters can be generalists, while others possess project-specific expertise. Legal interpretation scenarios can quickly escalate in complexity: a basic witness deposition differs from litigation involving intellectual property disputes. Quality language services partners will be able to provide legal interpreters with specialized experience in your industry.
2. Poor communication is a red flag.
Your engagement with a language services partner begins at the moment of initial contact. Ask yourself:
- Does the company respond to your communications in a timely manner?
- Are they available via multiple channels of communication?
- Will a dedicated project manager handle your project?
Look for interpretation services partners who answer your questions thoroughly, provide helpful context, and proactively monitor your project’s success.
3. Beware of dramatically lower prices.
High-quality interpretation depends on experienced interpreters and professional, organized interpretation companies. Evaluating a legal interpretation services provider based on price alone is never a good idea. For example, take a company’s pricing that is dramatically lower than the competitors. In that case, they may be over-promising (resulting in unexpected price hikes) or may not have significantly invested in their interpreters or internal processes, which can impact quality.
4. Make sure their processes (and pricing) are transparent.
Disorganized project management can cause your budget for interpretation to inflate quickly. Seek out transparent partners about how projects are priced – and what scenarios can result in overages. At Morningside, protecting our clients from unexpected scope creep is essential. We re-confirm every engagement the day before to verify the accuracy of the current schedule and officially cancel or reschedule the booking in the event of a change.
5. ISO certification indicates a commitment to quality.
Determine your partner’s commitment to quality. They should use an independent third party, like International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to regulate and verify standards and processes for controlling quality.
Morningside maintains ISO 9001 certification to Quality Management, ISO 17100, which defines requirements for translation companies and additional industry-specific ISO certifications.
Read more: Quality management in legal document translation.
6. Evaluate a single engagement.
Working with a legal interpretation services partner long-term is the best way to achieve an efficient workflow. Every relationship starts with the first engagement, so it’s essential to make it count. Ask your team members to provide their feedback on the interpreter’s punctuality, professionalism, and service quality.
Prioritize language services providers who follow up with you after the project to confirm everything went smoothly. Weed out companies that did not meet your expectations during that first engagement.
7. See how long they have been in business.
Start-up language services providers are not uncommon, but companies with established track records have solidified their status in the industry. Legal interpretation companies that have been around for more than a decade are likely delivering quality service.
8. Check their client roster.
Many language services providers cannot provide lists of specific clients because of confidentiality agreements. Still, they can describe the types of clients they work with, and this information can tell you a lot. Companies with long partnerships serving top law firms, corporations, or other companies similar to yours are likely prepared to handle your needs. Contact the references the firm provides and do not hesitate to ask specific questions about the working relationship.
9. Look for court-certified interpreters.
Due to the high-stakes nature of most legal interpretations, accuracy is non-negotiable. One way to ensure interpretation quality is to work with court-certified translators. Most states offer certification for specific languages. State certification indicates an interpreter has already been vetted, providing an extra layer of assurance supporting their skill level. Most of Morningside’s legal interpreters have received accreditation from the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT).
10. Go Directly to the Source
Avoid additional fees when you go directly to a language solutions provider, such as Morningside, to fulfill your deposition interpretations (court reporter, videographer, transcripts, etc.).
Going directly to a professional legal interpreter reduces turnaround time on requests, communicates more efficiently, and saves your firm on costs.
Take your time finding the right partner.
Developing a solid working relationship with a qualified legal interpretation services firm takes time. However, cultivating a solid relationship is worth it. Achieving an efficient workflow with your interpretation team eliminates the headaches of finding an available interpreter for every engagement and reassures you that the resulting interpretation will withstand legal scrutiny.