Remote legal interpreting: Here to stay?

COVID-19 hasn’t reduced our public dependence on the U.S. court system, but it has forced changes to how courts operate. One of the biggest changes is the use of remote legal interpreting through video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype, and Cisco Webex to assist in court proceedings where interpreting services are required.

The Supreme Court of Florida recently approved the use of video technology to administer oaths to witnesses in any court proceeding, including remote legal interpreters. While this change was enacted as an emergency response to the ongoing pandemic, the benefits of remote interpreting—to both legal clients and the court system as a whole—could make this service a permanent fixture in Florida court proceedings, even after the pandemic has passed.

Remote legal interpreting improves speed, efficiency

The greatest benefit of video conference interpreting is the ability to provide an interpreter in mere minutes. In a traditional court setting, last-minute interpreting services are often required to facilitate communication between the court and present legal parties. However, calling an interpreter and getting them down to the courthouse takes time—often an hour or longer. This can cause slowdowns in court proceedings and is also dependent on local interpreter availability.

Through Zoom interpreting or a similar video platform, interpreters can appear via video to be sworn in within minutes—often as little as five to 10 minutes after being called, depending on availability. Thanks to this flexibility and speed, court proceedings can move forward with minimal disruption, and legal clients can receive the language services they need to be adequately represented in the courtroom.

Better access to interpreters of uncommon languages

In Florida, uncommon languages are served by a limited number of interpreters, which can impact availability. While Miami has a large population of Spanish-speaking interpreters, interpreters for Ukrainian or Malayalam may be harder to find in your local area—especially on short notice.

Remote legal interpreting makes it easy to stretch beyond your physical area and find interpreters based in Tampa, Jacksonville, or anywhere in the state. In cases where no interpreter is available within the state of Florida, you can even extend your search to other parts of the United States to quickly find a qualified interpreter to bring into your court proceeding on just a few minutes’ notice.

Remote legal interpreting is likely here to stay

COVID-19 accelerated the Florida court system’s options of virtual remote interpreting, but studies to explore the use of this technology were already underway. The state had already conducted a pilot program launched in 2014 to assess the use of virtual services in a courtroom setting. Given the prior interest in using remote technology to improve courtroom operations, it’s likely that this technology could become a permanent fixture in Florida courtrooms.

The benefits to all parties are obvious. For legal representation and their clients, access to interpreting services is greatly expanded. Interpreters can be brought into a courtroom faster, and at a lower cost because they don’t have to physically appear in the courtroom. Meanwhile, court proceedings experience fewer disruptions and delays, while also ensuring that legal parties are fairly represented across any language barrier.

Are you a law firm looking for remote interpreters to serve your clients? Our experienced and certified legal interpreters are ready to serve you and your clients in over 200 languages and regional dialects. Contact Protranslating to get connected today.

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