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Legal Conflict
Thread poster: Kathi Stock

Kathi Stock  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:33
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Sep 5, 2003

Recently I had a job assignment for the consecutive interpretation at a deposition. I was hired through an agency which was contacted by the plaintiff's attorney. Plaintiff and defendant were pleased with my work and both offered me afterwards independently from each other to use my services (for translations) in the future.
I am not quite sure whether this is right for me to do and whether this would create a conflict by accepting work from either the plaintiff or the defendant or from both of them.
I am afraid that someone may point the finger at me later and may accuse me for a non-neutral interpretation.
Does anyone have experience in regards to this?

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Jane Lamb-Ruiz  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
No non-compete with agency signed, no conflict of interest Sep 5, 2003

Conflicts of interest are not plaintiff/defendant but
agency versus law office,and/law authorities.

You can work for whomever you choose. There's no conflict of interest in terms of the work. It's the agencies that make you sign an agreement NOT to get work from THEIR clients. So if you got this under your steam, you can work for them ie either party. Agencies are the one you can't usually compete with because they make you sign a paper saying you won't elicit work from their customers. Capisce?

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Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:33
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Be careful Sep 5, 2003

Hi Kathy,
I'm not sure if you are worried about a conflict of interest w. regards to
a)the agency (i.e. that they might question your loyalty) or
b)with regards to the defendant/plaintiff situation? In case of
a) don't worry!
b) do worry! Even though you 'just translate the facts' either of the parties might construe a bias, simply because you have access to information of which the respective other party might not be aware. This very fact could, inadvertently, influence your translation/interpretation. I have been in a similar situation where I was asked to translate - within a period of a week- documents for a direct client(a lawyer) and an agency contracted by the other party's lawyer, both pertaining to the same case. As soon as I noticed this 'conflict' I contacted the agency and withdrew my services for this case(of course the AGENCY, because the lawyer pays better;)). As a result, the agency was impressed and the lawyer happy. I continue working for both on other, non-conflicting assignments.
Greetings! johanna

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Problem Sep 6, 2003

Conflict involving an agency and direct work with one of their clients is one issue, and it depends on what kind of arrangment you have with the agency and how much you value that relationship, so you will have to deal with it accordingly.

The other involves opposing parties in a legal case. If such a situation comes up, merely inform all the parties about it. Normally there should be no problem. At least in the US, all evidence you might be called upon to translate or interpret must be available to all parties anyway.

The most important point is that in our profession we deal with faithfulness and truth, not in bias and deceit. If we are not true, it will be there for all to see. Also, our work may be commissioned by a party, but our job is to make something understandable for the court and to serve the interests of justice. Thus we may be considered impartial, regardless of who pays our fees.

An important exception might be when we are called upon to act in privileged communications between an attorney and client. But even in such cases there is usually not a problem as long as all parties are made aware of that fact.

The very essence of what we do and what we are is truth and impartiality.

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Irena Gintilas
Local time: 19:33
Lithuanian to English
+ ...
No legal conflict Sep 8, 2003


I would like to support Jane‘s opinion: your conflict could be between you and the agency that hired you. You do not have the same kind of conflicting interest as an attorney would have. As I said on a similar court related topic – you are just a faithful eccho, you do not express your own views, just repeat what had been already said – only in a different language.
In this particular situation, you were hired by the plaintiff‘s team and served well for both sides, more – you received an accknowledgement that both sides were pleased, take it as a compliment and treat the defendant (or his lawyer) as a future lead.


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