Interpreting in the Gray Zone: Where Community and Legal Interpreting Intersect


  • Marjory A. Bancroft Cross-Cultural Communications, LLC
  • Lola Bendana International Medical Interpreters Association
  • Jean Bruggeman U.S. Department of Justice
  • Lois Feuerle


Community interpreting, legal interpreting, court interpreting, medical interpreting, United States, Canada, ethics, advocacy


Interpreting in legal settings outside the courtroom is an area where community and legal interpreting intersect, a “gray zone” where the rules from each of these areas may mesh or collide. Thus legal interpreting outside the courtroom is an area that has caused great confusion for both the legal interpreters and the community interpreters who practice in its confines. Two neighboring countries, the United States and Canada, have adopted different approaches to interpreting in this area and to the kind of certification necessary for those community interpreters who work in legal settings. This article discusses non-courtroom legal interpreting in the broadest sense in both the United States and Canada, overviewing spoken non-courtroom legal interpreting in both countries, addressing the various challenges involved, and summarizing the emerging best practices for legal interpreting outside the courtroom, including some current and developing certification programs that affect, or may affect, non-courtroom legal interpreting.