1) Work with professional interpreters, as opposed to bilingual grocers/wait staff/etc. You are a professional and your client expects professional service from you and everyone you contract on his/her behalf.
2) Ask for the right type of interpreter. For legal proceedings, a legal interpreter is the easy default; however, if you’re deposing an doctor about a malpractice suit, then you might need a medical interpreter instead. Make sure your interpreter specializes in the case’s subject matter.
3) Request the right language. Many languages have multiple dialects. Spanish, for example, has 19 major dialectal forms.
4) For appointments slated to last longer than four hours, schedule two interpreters who will work in half-hour blocks.
When working with only one interpreter, schedule regular breaks.
5) Allow for extra time. Everything everyone says will have to be said twice and, in addition, some languages simply take more words to say something than others. Spanish, for example, uses 33% more words than English.
6) Prepare the interpreter. Provide her with any police report, transcripts from preliminary hearings, and other materials. In cases where multiple translations are available, knowing the context will help your interpreter choose the correct one.
7) Practice working with the interpreter when you prepare your client for questioning. You’ll get the kinks worked out ahead of time, everyone will look more polished, and your client will be more at ease.
Keep it in the first and second person. Instead of telling the interpreter “Ask him where he was on the night of the 15th,” say “Where were you on the night of the 15th?”
9) Be as precise as you can with your questions. Anything in your syntax that is unclear (i.e., dangling modifiers, unidentified pronouns like “it,” double negatives), may be interpreted incorrectly.
10) Be aware that EVERYTHING you say will be interpreted, even if it’s just to ask the secretary for more coffee.
11) Don’t be surprised if your interpreter has questions about seemingly simple vocabulary words. What’s only one word in our language could be one of many words in the other language, depending on the context. In French, for example, the English word meeting could be a “tête-à-tête,” a “rendez-vous,” a “conference,” or even a “meeting.”