Access to Justice: Do you need an interpreter for a legal matter?

Authored By: Justice At Work
Read this in:
Spanish / Español
Russian / Pусский
Vietnamese / Tiếng Việt
Chinese (Traditional) / 中文

Interpreters and the Legal System

What is a Court Interpreter? +

A court interpreter is someone especially trained to communicate back and forth between two languages in a courtroom setting. It is important that court interpreters be someone neutral. They should be someone who does not know anybody in the case and who has no interest in whether the case is decided one way or another. The court or agency hires the interpreter. You should not pay for a court interpreter, nor bring someone you know to interpreter for you.

When can I Request a Court Interpreter? +

You can ask for an interpreter to help you in court for many different types of cases. For example, you may request a free interpreter when you are:

  • faced with eviction from your home
  • an employee and wish to sue your employer because your employer has not paid you for your work
  • a person with traffic violations
  • a person who is being prosecuted for a crime

How Can I Request a Court Interpreter? +

In order to request an interpreter, you should contact a language access coordinator. If you have received a notice to appear at court, there should be a “Notice of Language Rights” included as well. That document will have the information of the language access coordinator you should contact. You can also find them at this website:

Last Review and Update: Sep 08, 2021