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Bridging the Language Gap: How On-Demand Interpreting is Revolutionizing Legal Proceedings

— June 29, 2023

The advent of on-demand interpreting has ushered in a revolutionary era in legal proceedings.

On-demand interpreting is revolutionizing legal proceedings, and it’s one of the best ways to ensure fair and impartial treatment of individuals involved in legal proceedings. The Vera Justice Institute states that more than the United States is home to more than 25 million Limited English Proficient (LEP) citizens, which is precisely why proper communication in legal settings should be deemed essential for multilingual communities.

The limited capacity of individuals to effectively express themselves often poses a significant obstacle to attaining a fair trial. This is where the significance of remote legal interpreting services becomes apparent. However, it’s important to note that not all interpreters possess the expertise required to offer remote legal interpreting services.

The legal field is characterized by its extensive employment of specialized terminology and its inherent high-stress nature necessitating unwavering seriousness and dedication. In this article, we will delve into the realm of on-demand interpreting within the legal sector, exploring its profound impact on communication during legal proceedings and how it is ushering in a transformative era.

Understanding On-Demand Legal Interpretation Services

Whether conducted simultaneously or consecutively, remote legal interpreting involves providing on-the-spot translations, requiring interpreters to convey the spoken word swiftly and accurately as it unfolds.

Although legal interpreters predominantly operate within courtrooms, their invaluable services are also sought in diverse settings, including police departments, immigration offices, and correctional facilities.

The tireless dedication of legal interpreters is driven by the noble objective of facilitating access to justice for individuals who need to possess fluency in the local language. These interpreters play a pivotal role in ensuring fairness and inclusivity within the legal system by enabling them to participate in proceedings that directly impact their lives actively.

To provide precise, on-demand legal interpreting services, an interpreter must profoundly understand legal terminology. When legal interpreters offer remote interpreting services to courtrooms and other legal environments, they must ensure the following:


A dependable legal interpreter adheres to a strict code of ethics, including maintaining confidentiality. Disclosure of any information related to an ongoing trial can significantly impact its course. Thus, legal interpreters are bound by confidentiality agreements, prohibiting them from disclosing or discussing any information with third parties.


While empathy plays a crucial role in successful interpreting, the interpreter needs to maintain complete impartiality to avoid favoring either party. Empathy is essential because limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals find themselves in unfamiliar territory, struggling to comprehend the discussions. Establishing a respectful relationship with the LEP individual is essential, but it is equally important to ensure that the interpreter is not perceived as an ally simply because they speak the same language. Unlike attorneys or prosecutors, Interpreters fulfill a role similar to that of court reporters, walking a delicate line between both parties. They aim to ensure that everything in the target language is accurately understood from the source language, preserving the meaning without modification.

Subject Matter Expertise

Proficiency in the target language alone is insufficient. A fundamental characteristic of a legal interpreter is possessing in-depth knowledge of legal matters. This guarantees comprehension of the context and ensures accurate transmission of information. Legal interpreters must understand the intricacies of legal settings and accurately convey specific legal terminology. To provide this level of expertise, relying on subject matter experts is paramount.


This aspect is of utmost importance. Legal interpreters encounter individuals from diverse social backgrounds, cultural upbringings, varying ages, and literacy levels. Within the vast vocabulary they handle, interpreters must be capable of understanding colloquialisms or slang specific to the cultural background of the LEP individuals they serve. This bicultural understanding enhances effective communication and fosters a more inclusive and comprehensive interpretation experience.

The Benefits of On-Demand Interpreting Services in Legal Settings

Remote interpreting in legal settings offers several advantages and brings significant value to the table. Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) refers to the provision of interpreting services through a digital platform, leveraging technology to facilitate effective communication.

A typical video remote interpreting platform functions similarly to popular video conferencing tools like Zoom. It connects users with professional interpreters, enabling seamless communication.

One notable advantage of video remote interpretation used in legal interpretation is that it is as accurate as in-person interpreting. In comparison to over-the-phone interpreting (OPI), which is not recommended in legal settings, video remote interpretation provides a distinct advantage. With video remote interpretation, every session is essentially a video call, allowing interpreters to visually observe non-verbal cues that are crucial for accurately interpreting a speaker’s statements and intent. This visual component significantly enhances the accuracy and effectiveness of the interpretation process.

Other benefits of video remote interpreting services for the legal sector include:

Access to Justice

Statue of Lady Justice; image by William Cho, via
Statue of Lady Justice; image by William Cho, via

On demand interpreting ensures that individuals who do not speak the local language can actively participate in legal proceedings, providing them with fair access to justice.

Real-time Communication

On-demand interpretation services enable real-time interpretation, allowing for seamless and immediate communication between parties who speak different languages.

Accuracy and Clarity

Professional interpreters with expertise in legal terminology ensure accurate and clear interpretation, avoiding misunderstandings across the language barrier and promoting effective communication during legal proceedings.

Flexibility and Convenience

Remote interpreting offers flexibility in scheduling and eliminates the need for physical presence, making it convenient for all parties involved, including lawyers, judges, and clients.

Impartiality and Neutrality

Qualified interpreters maintain impartiality, professional conduct, and neutrality, ensuring that they do not interfere with or favor any party, thus upholding the integrity of legal proceedings during remote interpreting sessions.

Bilingual and Bicultural Understanding

On-demand interpreters possess deep knowledge of both languages and cultural nuances, facilitating effective communication and comprehension between all parties involved, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.

These benefits collectively enhance communication, comprehension, and fairness within legal proceedings, contributing to a more inclusive and efficient legal system.

Wrapping Up

The advent of on-demand interpreting has ushered in a revolutionary era in legal proceedings. This innovative approach has transcended language barriers, enabling individuals who do not speak the local language to participate in the pursuit of justice actively. With real-time communication, accurate interpretation, and the convenience of remote access, on-demand interpreting has transformed the landscape of legal proceedings. It has enhanced efficiency, inclusivity, and fairness while preserving the integrity of the legal system. As we embrace the power of technology and professional interpreters, we can look forward to a future where language is no longer a barrier to a just and equitable legal process.

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