Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Wisconsin

Legal Language Services ranks Wisconsin as a state with moderately regulated legal interpreting requirements.

Your legal interpreter must have the appropriate level of certification that meets your language needs. This is especially true if you require a court interpreter. This does not mean, however, that you should hire a certified interpreter for every situation.

Whether or not an interpreter is certified — let alone the level of certification — will have an effect on how much you are charged for legal interpreting services.

Do You Need a Certified Interpreter?

Due to the added cost of certified professionals, it may not be a sound strategy to use certified legal interpreters if certification is not legally required for your proceeding.

In fact, some situations may not benefit from certified interpreters. In particular, where subject matter expertise and/or special skills are required, certification may be a secondary consideration in securing a competent interpreter.

As previously noted, non-certified legal interpreters in Wisconsin can provide professional interpreting services at a more affordable price. As in other states, a certified interpreter will command a higher fee for legal interpreting services. Prices will be affected based on the level of certification.

Legal Language can help you determine the best interpreter, certified or otherwise, for your legal interpreting needs in Wisconsin.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Wisconsin

Wisconsin state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

Wisconsin offers certification in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian
  • Cantonese
  • French
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hmong
  • Ilocano
  • Korean
  • Lao
  • Mandarin
  • Marshallese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

Classification of Interpreters in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a three-part oral exam, passed a two-part written exam, attended an orientation training session, passed a criminal background check and signed an oath to abide by a code of ethics.
  • Provisional Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored 65 percent or higher on two out of three parts of an oral exam, passed a multiple choice test at 80 percent or higher and/or passed a written language assessment,  attended an orientation training session, passed a criminal background check and signed an oath to abide by a code of ethics.

Interpreters in Languages Other Than Spanish (LOTS) are defined in the following ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a multiple-choice test at 80 percent or higher and/or passed a written language assessment, passed all three parts of an oral certification exam at 70 percent or higher, attended an orientation training session, passed a criminal background check and signed an oath to abide by a code of ethics.
  • Provisional Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a multiple-choice test at 80 percent or higher and/or passed a written language assessment, passed two out of three parts of an oral certification exam at 65 percent or higher, attended an orientation training session, passed a criminal background check and signed an oath to abide by a code of ethics.
  • Provisional-B Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a multiple-choice test at 80 percent or higher and/or passed a written language assessment, passed two out of three parts of an oral certification exam at 55 percent or higher, attended an orientation training session, passed a criminal background check and signed an oath to abide by a code of ethics.
  • Authorized Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a multiple-choice test at 80 percent or higher, achieved a superior level on an oral proficiency interview, attended an orientation session, passed a criminal background check and signed an oath to abide by a code of ethics. This classification is available only to interpreters of non-Spanish languages where an oral certification exam does not exist.

Not all venues in Wisconsin require certified interpreters, even for Spanish-language cases. Please consult with Legal Language Services for the rules pertaining to your specific venue and language.

Common Languages Spoken in Wisconsin

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 8.29% of the West Virginia population primarily speaks a language other than English.
What’s more, almost 82% of the non-English speaking population in Wisconsin speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Common Languages Spoken in Wisconsin

  • Spanish
  • Hmong
  • German
  • French
  • Chinese
  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Pennsylvania Dutch
Madison, Wisconsin city view - court interpreting guidelines

Other languages spoken in West Virginia include Arabic, Hindi, Tagalog, Laotian, Serbian, Greek, Albanian, Vietnamese, Algonquian, Dutch, Norwegian and Urdu.

Judicial Districts in Wisconsin

There are 10 judicial districts in Wisconsin that encompass 72 counties. However, the certification requirements and programs in Wisconsin are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

Call Legal Language Services at 1-800-788-0450 to find Wisconsin interpreters that meet state interpreting rules for courtroom trials, hearings, depositions, arbitrations and other legal proceedings.

Please Note

The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information about legal interpreting guidelines in Wisconsin is believed to be accurate at the time of posting; however, Legal Language Services is not responsible for any errors or omissions.