Spotlight Interview:

Carmen Hiers

TransForma Translation Services

This month I am honored to feature translation extraordinaire Carmen Hiers from TransForma Translation Services for our SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to sit with us, Carmen. First off, tell me about TransForma and the type of work you do.
A: Thanks for having me, Ely. Our company specializes in providing language services primarily in the legal and financial sectors, including translation, interpreting and transcription from English into just about any language, and from just about any language into English. We’re based in Miami, but we have a back office in Michigan and another one in Mexico, and we can service translation requests that originate anywhere in the world. In 2019, we’re thrilled to be celebrating ten years in business.

Q. What type of attorneys do you normally work with?
A. It runs the gamut. We work with attorneys who have international clients, non-English speaking clients, or whose cases are in any way affected by an international or a language component. In a place like Miami, where so much of life and business involves a language other than English, just about every legal discipline can be in need of language services. This includes the practices of family law, criminal defense, international business, international arbitration, real estate, immigration and many others. In the area of interpreting, we provide linguists for workers’ comp mediations, child custody disputes, bankruptcy proceedings (including Rule 2004 examinations) and depositions.

Q. What specific work do you do that’s focused on immigration?
A. We do a lot, including personal documents, supporting documentation for the different types of immigration visas, and interpreting during marriage interviews and asylum hearings for clients who are not fluent or comfortable in English. We work directly with attorneys, and we also work with individuals who find us by searching on the Internet. Recently we also translated the website of a New York-based EB-5 regional center into Russian, Portuguese and Turkish.

Q. I get that TransForma can work in any language but, being based in Miami, I would assume that you mostly work in English and Spanish.
A. We can service just about any language combination because over the years we’ve built a database of capable, credentialed, trustworthy linguists and language companies throughout the world. Having said that, 80% of our requests are for the Spanish/English combination, about 10% are for Portuguese/English, and the rest can be pretty much anything. For example, last week we translated into English a handwritten prenup written in Farsi for a family law firm in Jacksonville. We also provided a French/English interpreter for the polygraph of an inmate taken at a detention center. Last month we provided a Bulgarian interpreter for an all-day deposition for a bankruptcy law firm, and we had to fly her in from Washington D.C. because we could not find a qualified interpreter in Miami who spoke the needed dialect (Thracian). We’ve translated plenty of personal documents like birth, marriage and death certificates that come in Greek, Indonesian, Chinese, Italian, French, Haitian Creole and other languages. We’ve translated lease agreements from Russian, contracts into Hungarian, corporate documents from German, tax returns from French, and many others. It’s true that English/Spanish is the language combination we handle the most, but you’d be surprised how many requests we get for other languages.

Q. There are lots of people out there that do what you do. What would you say makes you stand out from the many translators and translation agencies in Miami?
A. It’s true that attorneys have a lot of choices, especially in a multilingual place like Miami. But at the end of the day, a lawyer is looking for three things: 1) can you have the work done when I need it, 2) can you do it without breaking my client’s bank, and 3) can I trust that the work is accurate, especially in a language I don’t understand. The last thing a busy attorney needs is to waste his client’s time and money with work that will embarrass him in front of his client or in court. When all is said and done, what we really sell is trust.

Q. What’s the most unusual request you’ve gotten?
A. This one was not from a law firm. A few years ago we got a call from Univision to provide an Urdu interpreter to sit by a producer as he was editing footage, to make sure he wasn’t cutting any crucial dialogue from an interview. FYI, Urdu is a language spoken by 100 million people, mostly in Pakistan and India.

Thank you very much for that amazing interview, Carmen. This is Elina signing off until next month’s spotlight interview. Have a great month!


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