Legal Interpreter Guidelines by State Now Available

By Julia at Legal Language
Posted on 04/23/2012
In Legal Interpreting



Need an interpreter for your legal proceeding? Regulations for legal interpreters vary by the jurisdiction and/or by the state in which the court resides. If you are looking for interpreter guidelines in a particular state, Legal Language Services now offers free interpreting guidelines for US states and territories.

What interpreting information can you find?

The interpreting guidelines include information regarding whether each state’s legal interpreting requirements are lightly, moderately or heavily regulated.

For example, moderately and heavily regulated states often require legal interpreters to have an appropriate level of certification before working in the courtroom. Texas, for instance, has heavily regulated legal interpreting requirements. The state has multiple levels of classification for legal interpreters, and Spanish-language cases require a certified interpreter.

Is a certified interpreter always necessary?

Just because a state accepts certification and/or offers certification to its interpreters does not mean you should hire a certified interpreter in every situation. Since the charges for certified interpreters tend to be higher, you may not want to hire one where it is not legally required. What’s more, in situations where special expertise or skills are necessary, those qualifications may take priority over certification.

In what languages is certification available?

Each state page features information on certification exams, both written and oral, and the languages in which certification is available. For example, New York offers certification in more than 20 languages. At a minimum, all interpreters in New York are required to pass a written English proficiency examination.

Are there different interpreter classifications?

States often classify interpreters in different ways. New Jersey, for example, has three levels for legal interpreters: Conditionally Approved/Trainee, Journey and Master. Interpreters at the Master level are qualified to interpret complex legal proceedings, while interpreters at the Conditionally Approved/Trainee level may interpret proceedings of limited legal significance or of limited linguistic complexity.

Do you know if a state’s legal interpreting requirements have changed? If you have up-to-the-minute information on a particular state‚Äôs changing interpretation guidelines, please email contentmanager [at] legallanguage.com.

Why is quality interpretation important?

Many individuals who come before the courts are unable to meaningfully participate in the proceedings due to limited English proficiency. In order to alleviate this communication barrier, a legal interpreter is essential.

Legal interpreters make sure that individuals with limited English proficiency are able to enjoy fair proceedings where they are able to communicate and fully understand what is happening. Indeed, there have been many cases in which a poorly trained interpreter has caused the case to be thrown out. Regardless of which legal jurisdiction and rules apply to your case, it is important to always hire a professional interpreter.


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