5 Best Practices for Working with Arbitration Interpreters

Our favorite tips for hiring and using an interpreter for your next arbitration

Language barriers are often a hurdle when dealing with litigation abroad. Finding the right interpreter for your law firm to handle these language differences can mean the difference between success and disaster. An experienced, professionally-certified interpreter can ensure that your arbitration runs as smoothly and headache-free as possible.

Here are our five tips for how to hire and collaborate with the best possible interpreter for your arbitration.
1. Understanding the difference between consecutive and simultaneous interpreting

In consecutive interpretation, the speaker pauses after several phrases or sentences, allowing the interpreter time to relay the message to the audience. Usually, consecutive interpreters are a popular option for informal and some formal occasions including:

  • Depositions
  • Arbitration hearings
  • Interviews
  • Film sets
  • Photo shoots
  • Client-attorney meetings
  • Court depositions
  • Medical consultations

In simultaneous interpretation, the participants wear headphones, and the interpreter renders the speaker’s words into the target language as he or she is speaking. Due to the tremendous level of concentration required to perform this type of interpretation, simultaneous interpreters always work in teams of two. Usually, the interpreters work in a soundproof booth that enables everyone involved to focus on their work without the distraction of hearing another language. Simultaneous interpreting is commonly used for:

  • Arbitrations hearings
  • Diplomatic conferences
  • Business or board meetings
  • Training sessions
  • Court rooms
  • Tours

You may have noticed that arbitration hearings utilize both consecutive as well as simultaneous interpreting styles. This typically depends on the size of the hearing and the requirements of attorneys and the arbitrators. If in doubt as to which style to use for your arbitration, please contact us to find out more.

2. Selecting an interpreter
Look for an agency that has English-native interpreters who are professionally certified and experienced in arbitrations. Make sure your agency can also deliver the language pairing you desire.

In selecting the right interpreter, assess the interpreter’s background and experience to ensure it best fits the subject matter of your arbitration dispute. Optima Juris has developed a meticulous selection process, which ensures our clients always work with the most seasoned professional interpreters with proven track records for arbitrations.

3. Briefing the interpreter
Letting the interpreter understand your goals and expectations beforehand is imperative for a successful arbitration. Think of the interpreter as an extension of your legal team. Familiarize the interpreter with the personnel attending the meeting. Provide information, technical vocabulary, and any other documents to the interpreter well in advance of your event.

A well-prepared interpreter is the best interpreter.
4. Etiquette
To effectively collaborate with an interpreter, remember to use these guidelines to make your arbitration a success:

  • Speak clearly and slowly
  • Avoid long or complex sentences
  • Skip the jokes or humorous stories, these typically do not translate well
  • Advise your group to speak one at a time
  • Maintain eye contact with your audience when possible, not at your interpreter
  • Try not to interrupt your interpreter
  • Eliminate excessive gestures or hand movements

Good idea to provide the following:

  • If the hearing is being transcribed by a court reporter, ask the court reporter to provide a realtime feed or screen to the interpreter as a helpful aid.
  • Have paper and pen available in case the interpreter needs to take notes for any reason.
  • Provide bottled water for the interpreters, remember their voice is a tool.

Best practices:

  • If a witness understands the question you asked and begins answering in English without waiting for the interpreter to translate the question, instruct the witness to answer only through the interpreter.
  • Try to always address your questions directly to the witness instead of the interpreter.
  • Thank your interpreter.

5. Plan your time carefully
Questioning a witness through an interpreter can take twice as long. Make sure you have scheduled enough time to get all your questions asked and answered. Practicing or asking your interpreter for recommendations can help you plan carefully.

We’re here to help

Optima Juris has been helping law offices across the globe find the highest quality certified interpreters for over 20 years. If you should have questions about interpreting or any other arbitration services, please do not hesitate to contact us or fill out a free quote to see how we can make your international deposition a complete success.