Signing a contract with a new client is usually a good thing, but many interpreters approach it with a mixture of fear and confusion. I constantly advise interpreters to review contracts calmly and take the time to think through each section, including the recitals and signature block.
The recitals are at the beginning and are where the legal entities signing the agreement are identified—it can be a company or an individual (sole proprietor). It’s not uncommon to find general statements of ability to be included as well—for example, a statement that a person or organization represents itself to be properly trained and qualified to provide interpreting.
The signature block is the part at the end where each party to the contract actually signs it. This area will also include identifying information for each person signing the contract. For example, their title as it pertains to an organization signing the agreement.
As you sign agreements, think about how you present yourself to your clients and how you want to be contracted. If you have formed a corporation or LLC, complete all parts of the agreement as that legal entity. If you have registered a DBA or FBN, you’ll sign a little differently.
How you sign will be unique to your particular situation and the laws of the state where you conduct your practice. A quick email to your legal advisor is an easy way to document what is correct for you and your situation. Keeping notes will enable you to present yourself professionally and reduce some of the stress involved with contracting.
Richard Antoine, MIB/MBA
Executive Director, InterpreterEd.com