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The Role of Legal & Medical Interpretation During COVID-19

Mar 26, 2020

Millions of people worldwide have been ordered to stay home to help reduce the transmission of novel coronavirus, and that number is only expected to grow in the coming weeks. In the face of such a profound disruption of business-as-usual, many of us are being forced to find new ways to work. Here’s what that means for your multilingual business communications in the legal and medical sectors:

Canceled or delayed court proceedings

A number of judges around the globe are delaying court proceedings until some later date, as part of an increasing worldwide effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Justice Department even asked Congress to take the highly controversial step of granting judges the right to hold defendants indefinitely without trial during emergencies such as the current pandemic.

While the DOJ request has been broadly condemned on a bipartisan basis, it nonetheless highlights a real problem: Delaying court proceedings is – at best – a temporary solution. There are issues in dire need of resolution, including numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (which now plans to postpone two weeks of oral arguments that had been set to start March 23rd).

Moving legal & medical interpretation online

For the health of all parties involved, and to avoid such problem-causing delays, some court systems, such as Washington D.C.’s Superior Court, are switching to a remote operations setup that relies heavily on online services. Obviously, when multilingual matters are involved, remote interpretation services will become necessary.

Though remote online interpretation is still a new idea to some, it’s actually a tried-and-true system that has matured over time with increasing utilization in a variety of industries. For over a decade, hospitals and other medical facilities have been turning to online video remote & phone interpretation as a more flexible means of serving diverse patient populations and connecting with medical colleagues working in different countries. Remote legal interpretation is also often the most practical solution for attorneys and judges tasked with litigating international disputes.

Enlist an experienced language services provider

The option still remains, of course, to continue using on-site interpreters for sites that remain open and in compliance with local coronavirus safety regulations. However, for important legal and medical matters that cannot take place in person, please reach out to Morningside to activate your remote business continuity plan.

We have extensive experience arranging highly skilled legal and medical interpreters for these specialized industries. We can provide simultaneous and/or consecutive interpretation in over 150 languages supported via all major online meeting platforms — Zoom, Skype, GotoMeeting, etc. — as well as video and over-the-phone interpretation. Any of these options can be arranged in advance or requested on-demand as your business needs change with new COVID-19 restrictions.


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