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Interpreting in legal advice meetings: implications from an analysis of the discursive structure of legal advice interactions

Reynolds, Judith 2019. Interpreting in legal advice meetings: implications from an analysis of the discursive structure of legal advice interactions. Presented at: Critical Link International 9, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan, 15 - 17 June 2019.

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This poster presents an analysis of the discursive structuring of a set of eight legal advice meetings on the subject of refugee family reunion, with a particular focus on the implications of this discursive structure for interpreting in legal advice interactions. The analysis and findings emanate from a linguistic ethnographic case study of lawyer-client communication in legal advice meetings on issues of asylum and refugee family reunion, carried out in a not-for-profit advice service in one of England’s major cities during 2016 (Reynolds, 2018). In the study, legal advice meetings between one immigration lawyer and a range of asylum and refugee clients (both with and without interpreters) were observed and audio recorded during a seven-month period of ethnographic participant observation. Meetings were then transcribed, and their discursive structure analysed using the construct of communicative activity type (Linell, 2010). The poster firstly details the phased organisational structure of legal advice interactions that is revealed by the analysis, highlighting the predictable pattern of discourse types used in each of three core stable phases (information-gathering; advice on the situation; and advice on next steps), and in a number of selectively evident optional additional phases. Secondly, and drawing on interpreted lawyer-client sequences from the data set, the poster outlines some implications of this structure for interpreting and for communicating through interpreters in legal advice meetings. A range of interactional features of legal advice communication are covered, including variability in the length of speaking turns, and thus ease of interpreting, across different phases; the occurrence of sudden topic shifts, bringing shifts in the interactional rhythm and the context(s) informing the talk, in certain phases; and the use of key case documents (not seen by the interpreter) to inform the talk in others. The poster aims to demonstrate how both legal advisors, and interpreters working or preparing to work in legal advice contexts, may benefit from an awareness of the discursive structure of legal advice, and in particular, dimensions of it that may present interpreting challenges. Such an awareness can help professionals to more effectively prepare for, and manage, interpreted legal advice communication in order to achieve better communicative and legal outcomes for clients.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2019 15:05

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