13th CTS Professionalisation Talk 2017-18

On Friday 9 February, students gathered to listen to Sue Leschen, a professional legal translator and interpreter, as well as the director founder of Avocate.

Professional Conduct and Ethics

Sue is a professional legal translator and interpreter, as well as the director founder of Avocate - Legal and Commercial French Language Services. She is a dual qualified lawyer and linguist, and interprets and translates for the Home Office, as well as interprets for high-status court cases. As a member of several professional organisations such as the CIoL (Chartered Institute of Linguists), ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting), NRPSI (National Register of Public Service Interpreters) and NWTN (North-West Translators’ Network), she gave the students invaluable insights into professional conduct and ethics. She is also a mentor for APTRAD (Portuguese Association of Translators and Interpreters), providing help and guidance for their new starters in the industry. Sue also acts as an independent one to one mentor and business guru here in the UK.

What is professional conduct?

Professional conduct means upholding and maintaining professional standards. Codes of conduct reassure clients and the public of professionals’ standards, and they serve as guidelines when in doubt of how to act.

What are ethics?

Ethics are moral principles that shape the way we act, including values, standards, conscience and beliefs as to what is right or wrong. Ethics can be both positive, for example working with clients with what we may perceive to be backward views, and negative, such as refusing to work with HIV positive clients. 

Social media

Sue explained how professional translators and interpreters usually should have a highly visible presence on social media and should try to maintain professional standards on it at all times. She highlighted the fact that anything posted on the Internet is forever there for everyone to see. On Facebook, professionals should have separate pages for personal and business use, and may need to limit access to certain individuals and groups. However, more professional social media such as LinkedIn may be a better choice. LinkedIn is often considered by potential clients to be an alternative, alternate CV and has become the world’s largest professional network. Even though it is a great way to link up with clients and colleagues, Sue advises to not link up with just anyone for the sake of it. Also, professionals should always display factual and true information on their social media and other profiles regarding their ability and skill. Sue also emphasised the great importance of having a website, as it acts as a shop window for potential clients.

Organisations’ codes of conduct – should we adhere?

Organisations like the ITI, CIoL and Language Service Providers (LSPs) have their own codes of conduct to maintain professional standards. ITI, for example, say that to be a member, professionals should adhere to their standards as set out in the code. However, Sue explains how some codes of conduct may not be able to be followed. For example, the requirement of many LSPs that translators delete confidential translations when the work is submitted. This is because professional indemnity insurers will require proof if the translator is later accused by a client of having delivered a poor translation. Sue explained how professionals can maintain professional standards by being competent, impartial, and acting with integrity.

Breaches of professional conduct 

Sue explained that common breaches may include advising clients, through giving personal opinions, becoming too close to clients, and giving and/ or receiving gifts. Over the years, she has herself experienced dilemmas such as these in her professional life. It is also important to prevent misunderstandings with clients and Sue advises to always back up ‘phone calls with emails confirming what has been agreed, as well as asking clients to acknowledge receipt of emails. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/avocatefrenchinterpreting/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sue-leschen-34106b17/

Twitter: @sueleschen

Website: http://www.avocate.co.uk/

Reporters: Emma McNaught and Lydia Breite


The Professionalisation Talks series is not open just to CTS MA and research students. We are also looking forward to welcoming LCS taught and research postgraduate students, undergraduates in their final year who are keen to find out more about the Language Services Industry, as well as professional linguists members of the Yorkshire Translators and Interpreters' Network.