In Brief - April 2017

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IN THIS ISSUE: From the President ..... 1 From the Editor ........... 2 Satisfaction Survey ..... 3 NePA Officers .... ………7 Save the Dates .......... 12 NALA News ................ 15 MCC News ................. 18 Highlighting the Legal Professional .............. 21 Legal Secretary Career Certificate ................. 23 Day in the Life of a Mediator .................... 24 How to Search for Expert Translation ..... 26 NALA 2017 Conference & Expo ....................... 30



APRIL 2017

FROM THE PRESIDENT: TERI GIBBONS Just When We Thought It Was Spring!

We had beautiful 70 degree days in February and now we’ve had a rainy March. You’ve got to love the weather in Nebraska. Despite the ever changing weather, spring is right around the corner, and that means the NePA Spring Seminar and Mid-Year Annual Meeting on April 14th will be here before you know it! We are back at Mahoney State Park this year and hope to have a great turn out. Let’s hope we have a beautiful spring day so we can really enjoy our trek out to Mahoney. As previously mentioned, NePA continues to work with the Nebraska State Bar Association (“NSBA”). This is a relationship we want to continue to encourage and develop. We have NSBA speakers scheduled for upcoming luncheons in Omaha to provide us with information regarding various tools the Nebraska Bar Association provides on its website to assist us in our profession. In addition, I remind you that there are opportunities for members to write articles for The Nebraska Lawyer magazine. Also coming up this spring is the annual Law Day event sponsored by the Omaha Bar Association (“OBA”). Law Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, with a luncheon at the Omaha Regency Marriott, and NePA is again sponsoring the poster contest for area 5th graders. This year’s Law Day theme is “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.” If you have the opportunity to attend the luncheon with members of your office, I highly encourage it. Members of the NePA Board will be in attendance. Spring also means it is time to start some serious fundraising for Relay For Life for the benefit of the American Cancer Society through NePA’s team the Legal Beagles. I am very excited about the new venue where Relay will be held this year. It is Falconwood Park and Drive-in near Plattsmouth. It is a really cool location. The event will be held from 6:00 pm to midnight on Friday, June 2, 2017. Continued Page 2



FROM THE PRESIDENT: TERI GIBBONS Finally, I would again invite members, particularly new members, to consider joining a committee. We have been so fortunate over the years to have outstanding volunteers who step up and do the committee jobs that need to be done. However, for any organization to remain successful, it takes participation from many, not just a few. Getting involved gives you a whole new perspective of the organization, and you get to know members on a much more personal level. No matter what committee or office you may want to consider, you can rest assured there will always be someone there to help you. Hope to see you at the next luncheon or at the Spring Seminar!

A Note From the Editor We sincerely appreciate your feedback on the In Brief Satisfaction Survey that you should have received in January. Your input helps the Publications Committee plan and compose a newsworthy ezine that passes these tests: “Why would the reader care about this?” and “What’s in it for the reader?”. Your recommendations are key in deciding what information and messages to include. We all know that you can’t please all people all the time, and that’s why sending out a publication to a broad audience can be a tricky matter. No matter what the mix, we bear in mind that each reader opens this publication wearing more than one hat. If you’re uncertain of what that implies, peruse the Officer Biographies on the upcoming pages for a sampling of member backgrounds and expertise. When gathering content, we try to put ourselves in your shoes and ensure that when you open the In Brief the information accurately reflects what you expect to find. So again, if you participated in helping us to measure what works well, what doesn’t work well, and what we can do differently next time, THANK YOU!

As always, please continue to write articles, send your feedback and ideas, and be on the lookout for items you think are of interest to our group. We appreciate your support and are very pleased to have you as a reader! Two hundred seven surveys were emailed and thirty-eight responses were received. viewable on the following pages.


Results are



IN BRIEF SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS How interested are you in receiving NePA’s e-zine, the In Brief?

Do you feel the In Brief effectively provides information important to the overall needs of NePA members?

How satisfied are you with the timeliness, practicality and helpfulness of the information presented in the In Brief?

How satisfied are you with the quality of writing in the In Brief?



IN-BRIEF SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS How satisfied are you with the layout of the In Brief?

How satisfied are you with your ability to submit information or articles for inclusion in the In Brief?

Is there any additional information or section(s) you would like to see included in future editions of the In Brief? If yes, please explain.



IN-BRIEF SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS Is there any additional information or section(s) you would like to see included in future editions of the In Brief? If yes, please explain.

Is there any information or section(s) you would prefer to see removed in future editions of the In Brief? If yes, please explain.







Laurie earned her Associate in Applied Science Degree – Paralegal Studies from Metropolitan Community College in 1995. Additionally, she earned the designation of Certified Paralegal in May of 2000 and Advanced Certified Paralegal - Business Organizations: Incorporated Entities in August of 2012. Laurie has a total of 37 years legal experience with her area of focus being in corporate international law. She has been employed with HDR, Inc. since September 2013, formerly working at Kiewit Corporation for 23 years. Laurie has been a member of NePA for a number of years and currently serves as NePA Past President and Chair of the Sponsorship Committee. She previously served as NePA President, President-Elect, and Vice President and has chaired the Seminar and Membership Committees. Laurie is also a member of NALA.

Teri Gibbons—President I am the current President of NePA and am so honored to hold this position. NePA has done so much to enrich my life and my career--from the wonderful education I have received at the marvelous seminars to the close friends I have made. I work at Koley Jessen as a litigation paralegal and assist the attorneys in all aspects of litigation in the areas of personal injury, commercial litigation, workers’ compensation, intellectual property disputes, bankruptcy, and creditors’ rights.

As many of

you know, I also Chair our Relay for Life team, as supporting the American Cancer Society is one of my passions, having lost many family members and friends to cancer.

Bridget Stuhr, CP— President-Elect My main role as the President-Elect is to work with and assist the President and to gain the requisite knowledge and prepare myself to serve as President for the next year. My primary duty during this term as President-Elect is to plan and organize the details surrounding the Spring Seminar and the Fall Seminar by coordinating the location, the speakers and the menu for each. I am employed as a paralegal in the Corporate/Real Estate group at Kutak Rock LLP, where a majority of my efforts focus on the coordination, management and review of diligence for large general corporate, real estate, commercial real estate, tax credit, commercial lending and secured finance transactions.



MEET YOUR 2017 NEPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS Andrea Maldonado, ACP—Vice President Andrea Maldonado has been with the Social Security Administration since 2004 and currently serves as a Supervisory Paralegal Analyst in the Omaha, Nebraska Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Andrea earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies in 1996 from the University of Great Falls in Great Falls, Montana, where she graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors. She has been a member of the Nebraska Paralegal Association since 2002, assisting with continuing le-

gal education seminars, mentoring new paralegals, and serving as the current Vice President of the association. In addition to her career activities, Andrea is active with the Boy Scouts of America in the Mid-America Council, where she serves as a Troop treasurer and committee member with her son David and daughter Erika.

Caryn Redding, CP—Treasurer Caryn is a Certified Paralegal for Whitmore Law Office, LLC. She obtained her paralegal certificate from the Denver Paralegal Institute in 1993. She worked for Whitmore Law Office from 1993-1998 and again from 2003-present, in the areas estate planning, probate, guardianships, and corporate law. Caryn has been a member of NePA since 1995 and served on the Fall Seminar Committee, Student Services Committee, and Distance Membership Committee.

She also

served as the District 1 Director and Secretary and is currently serving as the Treasurer. She has been a member of NALA since 2010 and obtained her Certified Paralegal designation in 2011.

Lauriel Nelson—Secretary Lauriel Nelson has been the Secretary of NePA since 2015 and is responsible for preparing and maintaining the minutes of all meetings of the Board of Directors and the membership. As the Corporate Paralegal at Lamson, Dugan & Murray, LLP, Lauriel supports the firm’s corporate attorneys as they assist clients with various business transactions, contract executions and other corporate matters. Having 13 years of probate and estate planning experience, Lauriel also handles estate and trust administration matters. When she’s not busy at the office, Lauriel is an avid distance runner, having completed 15 marathons and 22 half marathons.



MEET YOUR 2017 NEPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS Sandi Armstrong, CP—District I Director Sandi Armstrong is a Litigation Paralegal at Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O. Sandi earned her Associate of Applied Science in Legal Assistant – Litigation Degree, from Metropolitan Community College in 1999 (with honors). In addition, she earned the designation of Certified Paralegal in May of 2000. Sandi has been a member of NePA s i n c e 1 9 9 8 a n d N A L A s i n c e 2 0 0 0 .

S a n d i has worked in the

legal field since 1979. She has been with Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O. since 1992 and working as a Litigation Paralegal since 1997.

Sandi previously served as

NePA’s Vice President from 2014-2016 and been on numerous committees. Sandi enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and assisting her husband with his estate sale and auction company.

Ruth Bahr, CP—Website Administrator Ruth Bahr holds the office of Website Administrator and, along with the Website Committee, is responsible for administering, maintaining, and updating NePA’s

official website. Ruth is employed at Baird Holm LLP as a Paralegal in the Litigation Section with a focus on managing e-discovery for the firm's trial preparation and support. Ruth relies on her experience and training in database building, structure, and database management systems in pre-trial investigation, creating and maintaining discovery indexes, and organizing complex case files.

Jill Lorkovic—Publications Committee Chair Jill Lorkovic and the Publications Committee are responsible for the publication of NePA’s official e-zine, the In Brief, on a quarterly basis. As Editor of the In Brief,

she is responsible for the oversight of content, format, preparation, printing, and distribution to NePA members, prospective members, NePA affiliates and other associations as deemed necessary or beneficial. Jill is employed as a Paralegal in First National Bank of Omaha’s corporate legal division, with a focus in retail banking law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Midland University and a Paralegal Certificate from Metropolitan Community College.



MEET YOUR 2017 NEPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS Angel Younger, ACP—NALA Liaison I am the current NALA Liaison. As the NALA Liaison, I am the main contact between NALA and NePA and I report to NALA on our activities on a semi-annual basis. I will also represent NePA at the NALA conference in Orlando, Florida this July. I have been a public finance paralegal at Kutak Rock LLP for the last 10 years.

Katie Wibbels, ACP—Parliamentarian The Parliamentarian attends all meetings and gives opinions on parliamentary procedures upon request of the NePA President.

The Parliamentarian is also

chairperson of the Student Membership Committee. Katie Wibbels is an Advanced Certified Paralegal at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, NE. Her duties include: (a) taking minutes at Board and Com-

mittee meetings, (b) looking up guardianship and custody orders, (c) training new employees on common guardianship and consent issues of patients and their families, (d) maintaining the contract management database, (e) drafting and reviewing all agreements Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and its subsidiaries enter into, (f) completing and maintaining all annual/biennial reports, service marks, trade names, etc. for Children’s and its subsidiaries, (g) tracking and coordinating responses to subpoenas and release of information requests, (h) coordinating discovery responses and (i) assisting Security with Ban & Bars and other securityrelated issues. Katie also serves on the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Em-

ployee Advisory Council.






SAVE THE DATE Spring Seminar and Mid-Year Annual Meeting April 14 8:00 a.m.—4:15 p.m. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Ashland, Nebraska 

NALA Affiliate Award Nomination Deadline May 1 Contact Angel Younger at 

Law Day

May 2 11:45—1:00 p.m. Omaha Regency Marriott, 10220 Regency Circle

Corky Canvas Fundraiser—American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life May 8 6:30—8:30 p.m.[] 

District I Luncheons May 24 Joel Carney—“NebDocs” 

June 28 Adam Astley—“Nebraska Child Support Calculator” *District I lunch meetings are held at Anthony’s Steakhouse, 7220 F Street, Omaha. Check-in begins at 11:30, guest speaker presents at noon.

Relay for Life: American Cancer Society Benefit June 2 6:00 p.m.— midnight Falconwood Park and Drive-in, 905 Allied RD, Bellevue 

NePA Board Meeting June 13 5:45 p.m. Koley Jessen 

NALA Convention

July 18-21 Wyndham Orlando Resort Orlando, FL









NALA NEWS CONGRATULATIONS to the following members who recently passed the January 2017 NALA Certified Paralegal Exam!

Casey L. Ochs, CP Amy L. Olson, CP Courtney L. Pfeiffer, CP We have been selected again for the NALA Affiliate Exchange! Amber Roberts, ACP and Kimberly Brown, ACP will present “Not Your Typical Newsletter� at the NALA Convention in Orlando, Florida July 19-21st. We hope to see lots of NePA members in Orlando and remember to book your hotel rooms early. If you are a voting member of NALA and unable to attend convention the deadline to submit a proxy is June 19, 2017. *See Conference schedule and Registration form at the end of this publication.

The deadline for nominations for the NALA Affiliate Award is May 1st. This award is a great way to honor one of our members for his/her amazing contributions to our organization. Please let me know if you have someone you would like to nominate. Please feel free to contact me at with any questions regarding NALA or the CP/ACP exams.

Certified Paralegal Exam Preparation Program The CPEPP's objective is to offer resources to those planning to take NALA's examination to earn the CP designation. For more information about the CP exam, go to For more information about the CPEPP, call or email Michaela Seidl, CP, at 402-346-1132 or



NALA NEWS NALA Certifying Board Announces New Exam Specifications Effective with 2018 Administrations The NALA Certifying Board has announced new exam specifications effective in 2018. This May and September will be the last testing dates (including retakes) for the old exams. Please go to for more information. Feel free to contact me at with any questions regarding NALA or the CP/ACP exams.







This survey is for those graduates of the Metropolitan Community College Paralegal Program. It is a part of the Assessment Plan of our Program consistent with the ABA Paralegal Program Guidelines. Your response is not only appreciated, but also necessary to plan and approve our program. Please return your completed survey by Friday, April 14th to Jo Wandel, Legal Studies Program Director


Surveys due April 14, 2017 1. Did you graduate with an Associate Degree or an Accelerated Certificate? 2. Year of graduation 3. How many hours a week do you usually work? 4. Do you work as a paralegal or in a law related field? What is your full time salary range? ( )25-34K, ( ) 35-44k, ( ) 45-54k, ( ) 55-64k , ( ) 65-74k, ( ) 75-84k , ( ) more than 85K 5. Have you continued your education? If so, please explain: 6. What are the skills utilized in your current employment?

7. What courses were the most valuable for your current employment?

The survey is also available on NePA’s website.

8. What courses should a student take to be ready for current employment? 9 .What changes in curriculum is needed for future employment? 10. Do you have your CP or ACP? Thank you so much for your suggestions, comments and help!




LAMDA EPSILON CHI CHAPTER MEMBER INDUCTION May 2017 Metropolitan Community College’s Paralegal Program is pleased to announce that we have been granted a LEX (Lamda Epsilon Chi) Chapter. This is the National Paralegal Honor Society sponsored by the American Association for Paralegal Educators. To qualify for membership, your legal studies grade average must be 3.5 and your overall student grade average must be 3.25. You must also indicate that you have performed some community service. Past graduates in the last 5 years may also join. Cost is $30.00. This puts your name on the National Membership of LEX and you will receive a Pin. Graduates may also purchase a purple sash to wear with their cap and gowns for an additional $30. Since we are a new member, enrollment is open to former graduates who qualify. Please let Jo Wandel know if you are interested. The Chapter will not hold regular meetings, only a yearly induction to take place in May prior to MCC Graduation.

Questions? Contact Jo Wandel at 531-622-4697 or







HIGHLIGHTING THE LEGAL PROFESSIONAL - NICOLE M. DAY, CP In the late 1960’s. an effort was made by Congress to increase access to legal services for all U.S. Citizens by offsetting costs. The Legal Secretary was “ i n vented” as a non-lawyer who could perform more substantive legal work under the supervision of an attorney, thus lowering the cost of services. Since then this role has branched into jobs with titles such as Legal Assistant and Paralegal that often require more education and experience to qualify for. Confusion about the job title, education credentials, and resulting role of the employee in the law office is a topic that comes up often. In an effort to achieve some clarity, we plan to run a series of articles highlighting different non-attorneys in the legal profession and what each does at work day to day. First, let’s review the reason for the confusion in the first place. The following is a list of the types of degrees or certifications that legal staff can earn: Legal Secretary Career Certificate, Entry Level, 36 hrs; Paralegal Career Certificate, 1 yr; Legal Administrative Assistant – Associate Degree, 2 yrs; Paralegal – Associate Degree, 2 yrs; Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees in Legal Studies, 2-4 yrs; Certified Paralegal Credential, Exam offered 2x/year, examinees may take study prep courses, order study guides, take mock exams and are encouraged to study thoroughly for proficiency in 5 substantive areas before taking the exam; and  Advanced Certified Paralegal Credential, examinees are given 24 months to complete the course materials and pass an exam.      

Often the Paralegal and Legal Administrative Assistant job titles are used synonymously when, in fact, it can indicate a vast difference in skills and training. The Paralegal Career Certificate and the Paralegal Associate’s Degree indicate a different amount of total class hours needed for degree completion. The Paralegal Career Certificate is issued by public and private higher learning institutions, some accredited by the American Bar Association, some not; and the Certified Paralegal (“CP”) Credential is earned through the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”) by paying, studying for, and passing an exam that has been compared to the Bar Exam in difficulty and requires other education credentials and/or job experience for eligibility before being allowed to sit for the exam. An Advanced Certified Paralegal (“ACP”) has already earned the Certified Paralegal certification from NALA and, in addition, has completed a course of study in a specialized area of the law such as Contracts or E-Discovery. An individual can earn multiple ACP credentials. In 2008, the Nebraska Paralegal Association (“NePA”), changed its name from the Nebraska Association of Legal Assistants (“NeALA”), specifically because the distinction means a difference to its members.



HIGHLIGHTING THE LEGAL PROFESSIONAL CONTINUED NePA members take to heart the distinction as recognition of higher education earned, more honed job skills, and having a career versus a job. They also expect to earn more as a result. Still, it is confusing that the national association that NePA is affiliated with, and from which many of its members have earned CP and ACP credentials, is called the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”), even if it has recently added “The Paralegal Association” as a tagline. I think that a lot of people still have in mind the fictional private practice lawyer who works round the

clock and has a loyal female secretary on speed dial. She, for all practical purposes, runs the law firm but seemingly has no personal career goals or need for her own work to be recognized aside from the occasional, “You’re the best; what would I do without you?” and a Christmas bonus on a good year. The reality is that there are many highly skilled legal professionals who perform advanced “paralegal” work without having a formal education, but rather from on the job experience. Furthermore, regardless of the education and experience that a legal professional brings to the office, there are still basic tasks that need to be performed for any office to run efficiently. These range from taking out the trash and making coffee to ordering office supplies and keeping software up to date. The ac-

tual day in the life of a legal professional can simply boil down to the size of the law firm. The different practice areas of the law have direct bearing on the wide range of ways that legal professionals have been utilized in the work force. I believe this series will highlight the many possibilities that exist in this career. We have been honored with two submissions to supplement this article and start the Day in the Life Series. Jo Wandel introduces the Legal Secretary Career Certificate program that will launch this Fall. Beth Mares has provided our first submission about her work as a Mediator. I know Beth from her work at the Tax Equalization and Review Commission. At her day job, she functions similarly to how a Bailiff works for a Judge, but instead for the Commissioners. She writes here about her second job as a Mediator. - Nicole Day, CP is a Paralegal in the Douglas County Attorney’s Office, Civil Division where her primary areas of focus are civil litigation, property and estate tax, Workers’ Compensation, and employment law. She earned her Associate’s Degree in Legal Studies, with honors, from Metropolitan Community College in 2010; and Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies from Bellevue University in 2012. She earned her Certified Paralegal (CP) credential from NALA in 2013. Nicole served on the Nebraska Paralegal Association’s Board of Directors as Website Administrator for four years and remains actively involved with committee work currently serving on the Public Relations/NSBA Liaison/Law Day, Seminar, Website and Publications Committees. She also serves on Metropolitan Community College’s Paralegal Advisory Board. Nicole is the new Executive Director for the Nebraska Defense Counsel Association (NDCA).



LEGAL SECRETARY CAREER CERTIFICATE - JO WANDEL, DIRECTOR OF LEGAL STUDIES, MCC The Legal Studies Program at Metropolitan Community College (MCC) is pleased to announce a new Career Certificate which will be offered in the Fall




discussions with local attorneys, the faculty learned that besides the continuing need for Paralegal graduates, the Legal Community has an on-going need for Legal Secretaries. For the past 10 years, MCC has offered an Associate Degree program in Legal Administration Assistance which prepares the student to function at a more responsible clerical level in a legal office. It requires 100.5 credit hours of study which involves approximately 2 years of study. The Legal Secretary Career Certificate is an entry level degree which requires only 36 credit hours. The graduate would be prepared to assist those Attorneys who need someone with a basic legal knowledge, introductory terminology, legal ethics and some basic technology skills. This degree can then be supplemented with Legal Administrative Assistant courses as the student wants to further skills and to seek an Associate Degree. Although the Legal Secretary and the more advanced Administrative Legal Assistant can provide helpful secretarial support in today’s law office, these degrees are not a program for the education of paralegals. MCC also proudly offers a successful ABA-approved Paralegal program which provides training for paralegals who are authorized to perform substantive legal work under the direct supervision of a lawyer. For additional information, contact: Jo Wandel, Director of Legal Studies, MCC, at or 531-622-4697. - Josephine (Jo) Wandel, J.D. is the Legal Studies Program Director at Metropolitan Community College. Legal Studies includes the paralegal program offering degrees to Associate Graduates and also Accelerated Certificates to students with Bachelor degrees. Legal Studies also has a pre-law Associate degree, an Associate degree in Legal Administrative Assistant and is adding this Fall quarter the Legal Secretary Career Certificate. The Paralegal Degrees are programs approved by the American Bar Association.



A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A MEDIATOR - BETH MARES The word “mediation” as defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a noun that means the intervention in a dispute in order to resolve a dispute.


“mediation” in Black’s Law Dictionary is defined as a private informal dispute resolution process in which a neutral third person, the mediator, helps disputing parties to reach an agreement.

Mediation has become very common in helping to

resolve domestic relations disputes (divorce, child custody, visitation), and is often ordered by the judge in such cases. Mediation has become more frequent in contract and civil damage cases and also has helped victims and their offenders. Little did I know that mediation would be in my future. Negotiating skills and working with people was interesting to me so I went into the political arena and became the first female commissioner in Saline County . As a County Commissioner, I used mediation skills to negotiate with my fellow board members and other elected officials. Using my mediation skills, I was able to put in place decisions that not only impacted my constituents but the entire constituency of the county. But what really put mediation in to perspective for me was a very contentious divorce, mine. That experience helped me to understand a lot

about what the people I mediate for are going through. I am always looking for that “story” to help me, not only in my everyday life, but to be a better mediator. Recently, I learned about a website called If you log onto this site, I think you will be fascinated by the wide range of topics that mediation addresses; including art, science, personal tragedy and the law. My belief is that everyone performs mediation in some form. We all mediate with our co-workers, friends and family. Think about it, have you ever negotiated with a small child? However, professional mediation is not for everyone. It can be emotional and sometimes frustrating. I was lucky to have a mentor help me through the process of becoming the mediator I am today. I find that mediation is rewarding and

plays an important role in today’s society. - Beth Mares has worked for the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission ("TERC") as an Administrative Assistant for seven (7) years. TERC is a Constitutional body created to provide a simpler, less expensive avenue of appeal for property owners to challenge the assessment of property in Nebraska. The Primary powers and duties of the Commission include, but are not limited to, hearing appeals from decisions of the county board of equalization regarding taxation, valuation, or assessment of real or personal property, and the annual equalization of assessed, special or recapture values of all real property in Nebraska.







HOW TO SEARCH FOR EXPERT TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETATION ASSISTANCE IN TODAY’S DIGITAL WORLD — DAVID L. LAUMAN, MA, CT, FCCI When faced with the need to find a translator or interpreter on cases involving Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals or foreign legal documents, it is critical to do careful research, as an online search is merely a starting point. It is important to have a set of best practices for locating and selecting the right translators and interpreters. This can go a long way in avoiding translations that could misconstrue key legal facts or using interpreters that distort testimony. What follows are a few key tips to remember when searching for an expert translator or interpreter and pitfalls to avoid.

Characteristics of Professional Translators and Interpreters For starters, a clear distinction between translators and interpreters makes it easier to know which kind of assistance to look for. Both must have a thorough comprehension of the foreign languages they work with, which allows them to re-express ideas from one language into another. While translators work with texts and must have excellent writing skills, spoken fluency in their foreign language(s) is not required. On the other hand, interpreters re-convey speech, have to think on their feet, and must speak their foreign language(s) extremely well, but are not necessarily required to have polished writing skills. Professional interpreters and translators generally have strong educational backgrounds in all of their working languages. Furthermore, they develop extraordinary proficiency in their foreign language(s) through lengthy periods of study and/or employment abroad. Language professionals generally focus on a limited number of subject matter areas. So I suggest that when you do a provider search on professional association websites such as that of the ATA (American Translators Association), filter your search for candidates who list legal among their specialties.

Certifications and Degrees Hearings, depositions, arbitrations, mediations and meetings involving LEPs generally require the use of certified interpreters, unless the LEP speaks an “exotic” language for which no interpreter certification exists. To the

extent possible, however, it is best to work with a courtcertified interpreter. This is because she has had to demonstrate competency in interpreting on qualifying exams. The federally certified court interpreter (FCCI) credential from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts is much more difficult to obtain. The pass rate on the Spanish exam is only a fraction of that for state court interpretation certification exams. Note, however, that Spanish, Navajo and Haitian Creole are the only languages for which there are active FCCIs. However, interpreters are certified for state courts in many other languages. In the U.S., no specific university degree is required to practice legal translation and interpretation. Unsurprisingly, few U.S. language professionals hold a B.A. or M.A. degree in translation and/or interpretation. Generally, those who have degrees in translation and/or interpretation have undergone much more specific training than those who don’t. Consequently, they tend to have greater self-awareness of their performance, hold themselves to higher standards, and have a more holistic approach to professional practice. ATA-certified translators (who abbreviate their credential as CT, for “certified translator”) have demonstrated a high level of translation competence: the overall pass rate on the ATA certification exams is approximately 15%. The CT designation is available in 17 languages, but is rarely required for practice in the U.S. Note, however, that if the translation of a U.S. document is required for a legal proceeding in a civil law tradition country (i.e. in Europe and Latin America) there is a high likelihood that this translation must be done by a translator who is certified by his country’s judicial system. For instance, in Mexico, courts and government offices will not accept a Spanish translation unless it is stamped and signed off on by a translator who is certified by Mexican courts to translate legal documents.

How to Evaluate and Search for a Professional Translator or Interpreter Before searching for language assistance, it is important to consider whether to work directly with a freelance



HOW TO SEARCH FOR EXPERT TRANSLATION . . . CONTINUED professional, or with a language services provider (LSP). To the extent possible, I strongly suggest securing interpreters and translators as far in advance as possible of a foreign language communication need. There are several advantages to working with a wellorganized, business-minded freelancer. First, if you are happy with this individual’s services, it is easier to procure her assistance each time you need it. Second, you can request references. Third, contact tends to be direct. On the flip side, this kind of individual is not overly common. So here are some questions for evaluating freelancers: • Tell me about your experience with out-of-court civil cases. • Do you provide both interpreting and translation? • If you provide interpreting, can you help us in person and by phone? (Many times, interpreting by phone is more cost-effective for short conversations with LEPs.) • What language(s) do you work with? • Can you provide us with references for your experience with out-of-court civil cases? • How long have you been practicing? • What training and certifications do you have? • What other services do you offer besides translation and interpreting, e.g. transcription and translation of audio files, etc.?

Peace of Mind But I think that this is the most important question: How can you give us peace of mind? The answer should reveal how well the candidate understands your concerns, and should allow you to gauge her enthusiasm and customer service skills. To find a court certified interpreter, contact the nearest U.S. District Court or try certified state court interpreter rosters. Visit the “Language Access Programs by State” section of the website of the National Center for State Courts, referenced in Footnote 1. Other than the ATA, you can try the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), and state or local translator/interpreter associations.

It is wise to evaluate candidate profiles on professional association websites because this information is selfreported. The only exception to this rule is the status of ATA-certified translators reported on their ATA website profiles, which is continually verified by this association.

Working with LSPs When you need assistance in a more “exotic” language, consider turning to an LSP, because they often have staff who can find a subcontractor for you. Be aware, though, that the person you get may not necessarily be certified, trained or well-versed in the nuances of legal translation/interpretation, because none of this may exist for that individual’s language. Since an individual translator’s daily output tends to average 1,500-2,500 words, contacting an LSP for a larger translation project that requires rapid turnaround can be advisable. The same applies if your project involves several languages. If an LSP promises certified professionals, ask who certifies them. This should be fairly straightforward with inperson interpreters. However, if an off-site translator is handling the assignment, know that LSPs do not often reveal said individual’s identity or credentials. Also, know that in the U.S., it is possible for a person to sign a statement before a notary certifying that a translation is correct even if he has no translation expertise or credentials. LSPs can help with last-minute translation/interpretation needs. But under these circumstances, keep in mind that you might not get your “first choice” interpreter or translator.

Fees There are significant disparities among fees, which tend to reflect important differences in education, certifications and experience among different providers. Over the years, I have found that firms who pay the premium for a bona fide professional tend to solve language issues in a much more cost-effective manner. They also minimize any stress associated with language barriers and do not waste valuable time putting out fires caused by




Pitfalls of Free Online Machine Translation I’ve seen many law offices turn to free online translation sites, and seen just as many fail to communicate with the Spanish speakers I end up helping them understand. There is nothing wrong with these sites, as long as their limitations are clearly understood. They can be fine for handling very basic communication needs. However, I do not advise their use for legal documents because many times, their translations are not faithful. Additionally, because anything you put in a search engine becomes the property of its owner, confidentiality would be breached. Beware of translators who simply feed the text for translation into such a tool and just edit it without informing their client. Therefore, I recommend establishing in writing with your translations provider that the use of free online tools on your requests is strictly prohibited.

Takeaway It is much easier to find a good translator or interpreter by knowing who, where and what to look for, and by knowing what questions to ask. Applying this knowledge can help move cases involving LEPs forward with greater ease. Thank you for reading, and feel free to contact me with any questions.

- Reprinted with permission from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). David L. Lauman has provided Spanish communication solutions for law firms and courts since 2006. Meet him virtually in his “Interpreter in Action” video at www. 20 2 0 t r an s l a ti on s. c om ! Email: David holds an M.A. in Spanish Translation and Interpretation from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and is a federally-certified court interpreter. He is an ATA– certified translator and a Colorado Judicial Department-certified court interpreter. For further information, including directories in each state of certified court interpreters, see “Language Access Programs by State” at the website of the National Center for State Courts:






NALA 2017 CONFERENCE & EXPO - SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE Tuesday, July 18 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm Registration / Help Desk Open

7:30 am - 2:00 pm Expo Hall Open 8:00 am - 12:30 pm Voting Booths Open

Wednesday, July 19

8:30 am - 10:30 am Education Sessions (2 CLE)

6:45 am - 7:45 am Yoga

10:30 am - 11:00 am Coffee Break in Expo Hall

7:15 am - 5:00 pm Registration / Help Desk Open

11:15 am - 12:15 pm Education Sessions (1 CLE)

7:30 am - 9:00 am Continental Breakfast in Expo Hall

12:15 pm - 2:00 pm Lunch

7:30 am - 2:00 pm Expo Hall Open

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Education Sessions (1 CLE)

8:00 am - 5:00 pm Voting Booths Open

3:20 pm - 4:20 pm Education Sessions (1 CLE)

9:00 am - 10:00 am Opening Session / Keynote

Friday, July 21

10:00 am - 10:30 am Coffee Break in Expo Hall 10:30 am - 12:30 pm Affiliated Associations Meeting 12:30 pm- 2:00 pm Lunch / Expo Visitation & Roundtable Discussions 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Education General Session: Practicing the Paralegal’s Professional Responsibilities - Pokladowski (1 Ethics credit) 3:15 pm - 5:00 pm Annual Member Awards Meeting 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Affiliate Setup 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Reception

Thursday, July 20 7:15 am - 4:30 pm Registration / Help Desk Open 7:30 am - 8:15 am 2016 - 2017 Board of Directors Meeting 7:30 am - 9:00 am Continental Breakfast in Expo Hall

6:45 am - 7:45 pm Yoga 7:15 am - 5:00 pm Registration / Help Desk Open 7:30 am - 9:00 am Continental Breakfast in Expo Hall 9:00 am - 11:00 am Education Sessions (2 CLE) 11:15 am - 12:15 pm Education Sessions (1 CLE) 12:15 pm - 1:30 pm Lunch (on your own) 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm 2017 - 2018 Board of Directors Meeting 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm Education Sessions (2 CLE) 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Break 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Education Sessions (1 CLE) 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Reception and Installation of Officers