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How to Identify Reliable Legal Interpretation Services

Nov 02, 2021

Legal interpretation comes with a unique set of challenges. While accuracy is essential for all translation and interpretation engagements, language choices can carry severe implications in legal contexts. One of the most important ways to ensure quality is to select a proven partner with a solid reputation. Here are some helpful methods to determine if your legal interpretation services partner can deliver.

Is the interpretation company certified?

Certification by third parties is an efficient means of determining that a legal interpretation services provider has been found to meet or exceed the highest industry standards. Interpretation companies can receive ISO certification for translation quality, quality management processes, data protection, and industry-specific standards. Certification is a top priority for Morningside. We maintain the following ISO certifications: 9001 (international quality standard for Quality Management processes and procedures), 13485 (applies to medical devices and suppliers), 17100 (processes and resources related to translation service quality), and 27001 (data protection).

Most courts also offer interpreter certification at the state level. (Note: at the Federal level, only three languages are certifiable: Spanish, Navajo, and Creole.) To ensure quality, prioritize language services partners that can offer court-certified interpreters.

Who is on their client list?

Most legal interpretation services firms cannot share detailed client lists, but you should ask how many top Am law firms are on their client roster. Leading law firms have the resources to work with the best, so language services providers that partner with premier law firms indicate a high credibility level.

We deliver customized legal document translation solutions for 97% of the Am Law 200 and 90+ leading global brands based on the size and budget requirements of individual cases, utilizing industry-leading technology to ensure accuracy, lower costs and faster turnaround times.

Read more: Nuances of legal terminology and the impact on legal translations.

What are their coverage hours?

Legal matters are not confined to business hours, so interpreters must be available whenever needed. Look for a legal interpretation services firm that can provide qualified interpreters after-hours or on weekends. Because circumstances and needs change quickly in the legal field, a reliable interpretation partner has tools and processes in place to respond to change. At Morningside, we re-confirm every assignment the day before, ensure everyone is on the same page, and protect our clients against unexpected charges due to cancellation.

How responsive are they?

Communication should be a top priority for every legal interpretation services firm; poor communication is a sign of a poor partner. Your interpretation partner should respond quickly (under a few hours) and provide you with regular updates during engagements. At Morningside, we use digital tools to track our client response times, revealing areas we can improve efficiency.

Establishing a solid communication process should be a priority to your interpretation partner right from the outset. Reliable firms will want to get to know more about your project and your company so that they can serve you better. At Morningside, we assign a dedicated project manager who conducts an introductory call before sending interpreters out into the field. Prioritizing open communication from the start establishes a strong working relationship and supports a smooth project flow.

Do their interpreters possess subject matter expertise?

Quality legal interpretation requires three crucial factors: foreign language fluency, legal interpretation proficiency, and subject matter expertise. Deposition interpretation services are very different for a basic “slip-and-fall” versus a complex patent litigation case. Ask if your interpretation services partner can provide interpreters who specialize in your specific area of need. The more specialized the interpreters, the more likely you will receive the highest quality interpretation.

Ask your language services provider to outline their process for vetting interpreters. Ensure they confirm the interpreter’s prior legal experience, check referrals, prioritize court certifications, and require their interpreters to possess a minimum of one year of work experience.

The right partner is worth it.

Managing legal interpreters adds another layer to an already complex process. However, partnering with the proper interpretation provider can eliminate logistical headaches and quell any lingering concerns about quality. Take the time to carefully assess legal translation and interpretation partners before initiating an ongoing engagement. The questions above will help you evaluate whether a particular company will make a reliable long-term partner.

Want to know more about our legal interpretation expertise? Contact Morningside today to start a conversation.



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