Language Translation, Social Media Lingo and Foreign Clients

We’ve blogged about legal translation services in the age of Twitter. The use of social media tools can be both a godsend and a nightmare for lawyers – particularly from an ethics point of view. Whether it is with using Twitter for promotion of one’s legal services or a Facebook page as evidence in court, social media presents new challenges to the legal world, one in which few rules and regulations yet exist. In fact, recently the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issued an opinion stating that judges should not “friend” lawyers of Facebook or risk being seen as biased. And the police commonly go to such sites as facebook and MySpace for evidence. Another issue is with jurors going to social media sites and improperly communicating about a case or looking up a witness.

At the same time, an attorney has an obligation to get information for a case – and social media sites contain a plethora of information. But in order to get the information on a site like Facebook, one first has to become a friend. A common question is whether or not it is ethical for an attorney to use deception to gain a friend status and access to the information. Attorneys also now have an obligation to advise their clients on the consequences of using social networking sites. Social media also plays a role in international law, as it is one of the easiest ways to find information about a foreign client or witness. However, whenever a site is in a foreign language, a foreign language translation will be required. When securing a foreign language translation, keep in mind that the language used on social media sites differs from everyday use and thus the foreign language translator should be familiar with the lingo and slang used in such forums.

Up Next: Chinese-English Legal Translation and Legal Ethics in China