Legal Interpreting And 3 Things To Know About Confidentiality


Legal interpreting can seem intimidating at first. We don't expect you to be a legal expert, familiar with every law or tort that exists int he United States legal system. But we do expect you to be able to correctly pronounce legal terminology and provide accurate interpreting services. A legal interpreter doesn't have to understand the law - they have to listen to the legal proceeding in English and relay what was said in a target language.

This isn't as easy as it sounds. But just like lawyers must maintain confidentiality, legal interpreters must as well. And that might seem overwhelming, because there is so much to the concept of privacy, and ensuring that you act in accordance with all the privacy laws that relate to it. Any good legal or court interpreter will abide by the code of ethics and professional conduct that states everything that goes on during an interpreting assignment must remain confidential.

3 things to know about confidentiality while practicing legal interpreting


1. Understanding and applying the interpreter code of ethics are 2 different things

In the classroom it is easy to read the interpreter code of ethics and show that you understand them. It is completely another story to actually abide by them and apply them in your real life. Especially with legal interpreting, maintaining confidentiality isn't as simple as an ethical dilemma- it is a legal obligation. One that comes with fines, lawsuits, damaged professional reputations and even criminal charges.

Did you know: serious legal consequences can occur for violating your confidentiality agreement?

2. Handling confidential documents should be a priority

Whether it's legal or court interpreting, you are going to be responsible for confidential documents. This includes your notes, all official documentation, reports, digital records etc. Anything that you have acquired, physically or digitally, that includes sensitive information in written formatting is confidential. If you leave a notebook at a coffeeshop, or if you forget about the copy of records you made in the office is exposing information.

Did you know: you are still responsible for client documentation after you throw it out? Sensitive written information is still your responsibility after you are done with it, and it must be disposed of correctly.

3. You should have a process for disposing documentation

Whether you are a bilingual adult who aspires to become a court interpreter, or a medical interpreter... you should have a process for disposing sensitive information. Here are some best practices for disposing documents:

  • Don't just move digital files to the trash can on your computer. Permanently delete all digital files.
  • Take a sharpie and black out personal information like names, dates and addresses.
  • Once all identifying information has been blacked out, don't just crumple them up in the trash. Shred all of your official documentation.



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Molly Romano

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