Legal Interpreting Services, Diminished Capacity
and Culturally Diverse Clients

Legal Interpreter Services for International Clients

We’ve blogged about the role of legal translation and court interpreters in determining a foreign national’s testamentary capacity and about certified translation services and the duty of care toward non-English-speakers.  Language translation and understanding of a foreign client’s culture play a significant role in determining the client’s competency to make important legal determinations.

The foreign client’s cultural beliefs, values and background all influence how he approaches and understands legal concepts. Since certain traits may signal incapacity in one culture – yet be altogether typical and normal in another culture – a monolingual and monocultural attorney can easily misjudge cultural differences and signs of diminished competency.


For this reason, when dealing with a client – regardless of background – the attorney must consider the person’s beliefs, values and worldview. Without such a comprehensive approach, one’s legal representation will not reflect the culturally diverse client’s actual desires, which, in a worse-case-scenario, could lead to malpractice.

As it is impossible for an attorney to fully understand the entire cultural background of every client that comes into his office, foreign language translators can become an important tool. Even if the client speaks English, a legal interpreter would “translate” the cultural differences that exist between you and your client. For this reason, it is essential to hire a court translator or a court interpreter who shares your client’s background.

Up Next: Legal Translation, Online Translation and International Wrongful Acts