Witnesses for Whom English is... a Second, Third or Missing Language

Level: Intermediate
Runtime: 55 minutes
Recorded Date: March 05, 2017
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  • Three Kinds Of Witnesses
  • Shouldn’t You Always Just Get A Translator?
  • Cultural Competency
  • Finding A Cultural Tour Guide
  • Finding The Right Translator For Witness Preparation
  • The Triangle Of Focus – Adding In The Translator
  • How To Make The Decision To Have A Translator
  • Bi-Lingual Witnesses
  • Substituting “Another” For Opposing Counsel
  • Knowing About “The Bad Old Days”
Runtime: 55 minutes
Recorded: March 5, 2017


Chances are you’re experiencing a growing number of Limited English Speakers as clients and witnesses in your practice of the law and you want to be better at working with them. Maybe you are aware that the population that you find yourself serving in your practice is changing demographically and you anticipate working for the first time with people who are Limited English Speakers. Or, perhaps you have recognized you are working right now with someone who is a Limited English Speaker and you need some more skills at your fingertips to meet the demands of making this person a better witness ASAP.

Legal matters happen every day – not just on the day after your witness becomes proficient in understanding and speaking English. In addition, most depositions and trials and hearings are not conducted in English. They are conducted in “Legal Talk”. This is a language you spent three years studying in school. You have been perfecting your understanding of this language for as many years as you have been practicing the law.

As an attorney, you speak and understand at least two languages: English and Legal Talk. Sometimes you might have noticed that you have a hard time educating Native English Speakers (who were born here and were raised speaking English at home) in understanding “Legal Talk”. So where do you begin?

This course will help you address whether or not you need a translator, how beneficial a cultural tour guide can be to your relationship with your clients and witnesses, and specific insights and tips on how best to utilize a translator in the courtroom and how to successfully prepare your witness.

Through specific examples, exercises and tips, viewers will come away with a better understanding of how to better serve today’s growing demographic of clients and witnesses for whom English is not a native language.

Video Exercises:
  • Walk A Mile In My Shoes
  • Attorney Know Thyself
  • What Cultural Tour Guides
  • Do I Already Know? If Repeating Exercise
This program was recorded on March 5th, 2017.

Provided By

Act of Communication (ACT)


Alan Blumenfeld

ACT of Communication

Alan Blumenfeld graduated with a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and earned his MFA at the American Conservatory Theater where he trained as a classical repertory actor. It was there in 1973 that he, and his wife Katherine James, began their life long collaboration as theater artists, teachers and visionaries – applying theater techniques to other disciplines, most notably the law. Alan is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants. For almost 40 years, as co-founder of ACT of COMMUNICATION? Alan has been developing, and conducting workshops for lawyers and their clients all through the country and the world. As a highly sought after teacher and performer, Alan has taught more than 30,000 attorneys in Legal Education courses, colleges, self-sponsored workshops, law firms and as a part of faculty at law schools and legal seminars, including: NITA, ALI-ABA, The Defense Research Institute, Attorney’s General Advocacy Institute, USC Law School, Harvard Law School, Georgetown Law School, American Association for Justice Ultimate College (Founding Faculty), and scores of others; as well as at firms such as O’Melveny & Myers, Munger Tolles & Olson, Fish & Richardson, Latham & Watkins and internationally in Edmonton, Canada and a series of workshops in Australia for The Shine Law Firm. In 1977, Alan and Katherine also founded the Free Association Theater, a collection of theater artists creating, producing and performing original works and adaptations of classical literature. Currently, they are producing Katherine’s original plays in the Los Angeles area. For almost 40 years, Alan has had an active career in film, television and theater, having guest starred on more than 300 television shows and appearing in more than 30 films. (link here to film/TV/theater resumes and videos). One of Alan and Katherine’s favorite projects was performing in the film, CALLBACK, with original music and sound recording by their son, Nathan Blumenfeld James. Their older son, Jordan, has been named a Rising Star in the Super Lawyers of Los Angeles and California. Alan is currrently working on a book for actors based on his 6 years of teaching at Pomona College, his experiences filling in and teaching at UCLA and USC, and his 37 years of professional experience. The book will be focused on acting for the contemporary stage, for classical theater and for film and television.

Katherine James

ACT of Communication

A trial consultant who specializes in live communication skills based in the discipline of theatre, Katherine James has been working to make attorneys and witnesses better courtroom communicators since 1977. Over 30,000 attorneys have taken ACT of Communication™ workshops that she developed with co-founder Alan Blumenfeld. She has helped take over 1,500 cases to trial and helped prepare literally thousands of witnesses, including experts of every stripe. She coaches witnesses and their lawyers to reach, persuade and activate jurors. She has taught for AAJ (formerly ATLA) ABTL, ABA, NITA, DRI, CICA as well as many private law firms and bar associations. Over 30,000 lawyers have taken her workshops. Over the past 15 years more have purchased her Online/DVD series “What Can Lawyers Learn From Actors”™. She has just released another Online CLE – “How To Make Your Witness A STAR” encapsulating her unique witness preparation system. She has also developed “GoodLawyer/BadLawyer™ Hats” for attorneys to use in witness preparation. She has been widely published and her articles can be read in the Knowledge Tank on the ACT of Communication™ website. She and her co-founder and husband, Alan Blumenfeld, are proud members of The American Society of Trial Consultants. She is an active theatre artist who performs and directs regularly and is writing a new musical based on a plaintiff’s case she worked on: “Headcase”. She holds a BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University and an MFA from The American Conservatory Theater. Her older son, Jordan Blumenfeld-James, is a plaintiff’s lawyer with Simon, Greenstone, Panatier, Bartlett, P.C. Her younger son, Nathan Blumenfeld-James, is a professional rock and roll musician in the band Early Morning Rebel.

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