Language Translation, Ethics, Attorney Advertising and Foreign Language Ability

If an attorney uses a foreign language translator/ interpreter to provide legal services in a foreign language- can the attorney advertise as having the ability to communicate in a foreign language? This is a question that has been circulating through the various state ethic boards. For instance, in Alabama, according to Ethics Opinion RO-2008-01, an attorney may make such an advertising claim as long as it is clear that a non-lawyer, namely, a foreign language interpreter, will be providing the foreign language translation.

More so, if the advertisement itself is in a foreign language, than all mandated disclaimers must also be made in that language.

The other ethics issue that arises when an attorney uses a foreign language interpreter for client communications is the issue of client confidence. Regardless of jurisdiction, most codes of ethics agree that an attorney using a foreign language interpreter specifically for client communications is responsible for the accuracy of the relayed information.

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