How does an interpreter set the stage as a professional? One tool that serves to that end is the pre-session or briefing session where the judicial interpreter states her role to the parties in both languages before beginning. Over the years I learned to say, “Counsel, may I introduce myself to your client?” Invariably the attorney agreed and I began “Soy interpréte y no soy abogado …”. I’d hand the attached handout (or show it to the lawyer) then proceed with the session. Sure, some may say there is no time for a pre-session. To those I say, “Make time and reduce the briefing session to ‘I am an interpreter and not an attorney’”, eight brief words that protect the interpreter.
MEET UP AND SHARE
Recently a colleague, Monica Benavides, invited fellow interpreters to meet at Rincón Criollo in the Gordon Arts District of Cleveland https://www.rinconcriollocle.com/. The crowd consisted of seasoned and neophyte interpreters who shared ideas and savored traditional Puerto Rican dishes. A newcomer to our field young lady and I ordered mofongo. Between bites she expressed concerns about court interpreting. Hence the pre-session discussion.
Interpreters can take charge and present them selves professionally from the outset. Arlene M. Kelly of the American Translators Association www.atanet.org shared this pre-session script years ago (see attached) that I to this day each time a defendant and lawyer appear or at check-in with the bailiff. After a sumptuous meal the young lady and I exchanged contact information and I sent the attached the next day. This provided another opportunity to educate not only a newcomer but the court on how to work with interpreters. Please distribute and comment as you like.