Why is Communication So Important?
When a lawyer retains a client, he or she has broad authority to act on the client's behalf. This authority is not without checks and balances, but without proper communication it is easy for misunderstandings to occur. This not only hampers the lawyer's ability to follow the client's instructions, but to properly convey advice. Communication must be free, open, and accurate, in order for the lawyer to fully understand the circumstances and to give adequate representation.
How Do Translators Help?
When a lawyer and new client speak different languages, the need for language assistance may seem obvious: the interpreter can make sure both the client and lawyer are properly understood. But in the legal context, there is more to it than that. Formal language interpretation can help lawyers uphold their professional responsibilty.
Lawyers Can Explain Their Role
For lawyers meeting a client for the first time, perhaps after they have been arrested or detained, it is essential to describe why they are there and how they can help. Not everyone is familiar with the legal system, and may be intimidated by the presence of a stranger who is claiming to speak for them. If a lawyer can arrange for on-the-phone interpreting at the first meeting, he or she can introduce themselves and their job. Importantly, they can clearly say what they can do and not do in the legal context, so the client knows exactly what to expect.
Clients Can Describe Events in Detail
In the criminal context in particular, the small details of what happened during the event at issue are crucial to a proper defense. In many cases, a lawyer will only have a few minutes with a new client before appearing in court or in front of an individual of authority. With the assistance of an interpreter, the lawyer can garner as much information as possible from the client, so the attorney knows how best to use the time alloted and on what issues to focus.
Lawyers Can Ask for More Information
During a consultation, the attorney can hone in on significant parts of what the client has to say. Sometimes, it is important to seek clarification on an issue. In many cases, having an in-depth discussion simply isn't possible when the people involved do not have the same first language. But with a professional interpreter, who has come to provide on-site interpretation assistance or is helping out over the phone, the lawyer can nail down those key pieces of information.
Clients Can Feel at Ease
One of the most intangible, but nonetheless essential, factors in the lawyer-client relationship is trust. For any person, it can be tough to trust a stranger to speak on their behalf in a forum with significant, lifelong consequences, like in a courtroom. That trust is even harder to muster when communication is incomplete or choppy. With the assistance of an interpreter, the conversation can go more smoothly, and clients can feel empowered to question their advocate and reveal their personal concerns.
Cultural Barriers Are Less Pronounced
In any setting, it is not possible to completely eliminate cultural differences and expectations. However, removing the language barrier can make it easier to navigate those cultural differences, so the attorney is able to do the best job possible for the client. In the case of a cultural misstep, for example, it is easier to explain the misunderstanding and recover the relationship.
What to Look For in a Translation Service
Legal environments typically use both interpreters (for oral communication) and translators (for documents or written communication). Lawyers may make use of a service that covers full scope communication, so they can not only speak with those they represent inside and outside the courtroom, but also assess non-English evidence.Language Network has been trusted by law firms in California for almost 30 years. Our professional, highly trained language experts may be the resource you need for your next legal consultation. To learn more, contact us today.