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Meet Joel Bloom of Adept Interpreting in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joel Bloom.

Joel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
About 18 years ago after graduating college, I began working as an independent translator and interpreter. I was doing Spanish translations for Latin advertising agencies, and working as a freelance interpreter primarily for Hispanics at medical visits. It was all sort of scattered and random, taking jobs as they came, but it was allowing me to make a living at least by doing what I liked most – speaking a foreign language that I was very skilled at.

As I began to learn more about interpreting and transitioned into doing actual interpreter work, a few medical offices with heavy patient volumes began to request me personally to interpret for all their patients because the doctors liked my work. I then became a certified medical interpreter and the doors sort of blew open with that – I began being requested all day long from companies nationwide to provide medical interpreting for legal cases that involved medical damages.

At that same time, I was just beginning to get into the legal interpreting field as well, I would go to law offices and interpret between Spanish speakers and lawyers for routine tasks such as deposition prepping, reviewing transcripts, arbitrations, etc. I began to see the same thing happening on the legal side too – the more law offices I became familiar with or visited often for assignments, the more personal requests I began to get from the attorneys to help them on all their cases because they liked my work. I then decided to put in the work to become a certified court interpreter, to solidify my status and legitimize my work, and I finally passed the rigorous state exam after some time. And then, just as the medical workflow boomed overnight after becoming certified, so did the legal.

I was working from the early morning into the evening, at jails, hospitals, courthouses, and law offices, and I was all over Southern California on any given day. I remember I became so busy at one point, that I thought I was going to burn out quickly by spreading myself too thin. However, I was young, I was ambitious, and I was riding the wave of excitement because not only was I doing something I was uniquely skilled at and loved, but I was making a good living at it despite all the people that doubted me and questioned the industry and my path.

Then one day I had simultaneous jobs in different locations and I couldn’t be in two places at one time. So naturally, I had to hire someone to cover job A while I went and covered job B. After the jobs, I paid the person that covered job A for me, and I still made a profit on their work (not as much as if I did the job myself of course, but a profit nonetheless). It was then in my young career that the mental alarm sounded and the epiphany struck. I just thought to myself … If you focused 100% of your time trying to open accounts and generate clients instead of servicing them, one day you’ll be able to farm out all the work and just focus on growing.

It may take a long time to get there, but if you grow it to a point where your profit is enough to keep you going and keep all your workers paid, the limit or potential of where it could go is really endless. That was when the real hustle started and I began to focus all my effort in promoting our services as a company and no longer as an individual- promising any law firm, medical group, or business with multilingual translation needs that we could staff their requests.

From only Spanish, the requests soon grew into other languages, and before I knew it we were offering services in Vietnamese, Mandarin, Russian, Armenian, Thai, Cantonese, Portuguese, Tagalog, and just about every language imaginable. We’ve had requests as strange as Samoan and Jamaican Patois, and we’ve staffed it all. The business grew organically, and only because we did a consistent and reliable job with everything we provided, and whenever a problem arose, we learned how to fix it.

Years went by, and year over year, the business’ numbers grew, and I stayed so busy that in retrospect I don’t really even know how it grew year over year, but it did. When one is not involved in the translation and interpreting industry, they never pay attention to or realize the staggering need for this service or the overwhelming number of people in our state, and across our country, that doesn’t speak English proficiently enough to represent or defend themselves.

And then about 6 years ago, a seismic shift rocked our company. We partnered up with a court reporting company called Ben Hyatt Deposition Reporters, ran by a friend of mine that I grew up with. He was in the law space too, but our companies specialized in different types of law and provided different legal services. Nevertheless, we realized when we got to talking that our services were complimentary – they were services usually ordered together. He and I both felt we needed a personal push with marketing as it was so hard doing it all on your own, so we decided to begin marketing together as a team, and that’s really when the flood waters began to inundate both of our operations. We bloomed into a new beast seemingly overnight, and ever since then, we have worked together and combined our client bases.

Today, we still operate primarily in California, however, we offer services nationwide when the requests are made. We currently work with hundreds of law firms across the country, countless insurance carriers, private companies and individuals. We offer interpreting and translation services in any language under the sun, we are continuously expanding our practice to all areas of law and private business, and we are growing our bandwidth of interpreters and translators by the day. I still interpret and translate from time to time for legal assignments that interest me, but 95% of my time is dedicated to managing the company, and developing new business.

I am still extremely hands-on and dedicated to overseeing the company, but I also try and serve as a sort of ambassador to the industry as a whole. I teach simultaneous legal interpreting, I give seminars and talks around the country to universities who want to promote their translation and interpreting programs, and I educate companies on what to watch for when contracting foreign language interpreters and translators.

Has it been a smooth road?
My journey has definitely not been a smooth road. While we have experienced continual growth year over year, we have been threatened by legislation proposals a number of times that could wipe us out by decreasing the compensation rates interpreters and translators have the right to earn. Apart from these law pushes by the Senate to undermine the legitimacy of the industry and reduce our earning capacity, we have also dealt with client attrition. In our industry, losing clients is far easier than getting them, and the hardest part may be maintaining them.

Believe it or not, as niche as the industry may sound, the competition is fierce. We struggle to compete against nationwide companies that undercut us and use unconventional tactics to steal business away. All we can do at the end of the day, however, is reassure our clients that we take great pride in our work, we are very knowledgeable about what we do, we will always do the job right for them, we are here for them at all hours and no matter the circumstance, and just hope that loyalty triumphs over anything when all is said and done.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Adept Interpreting – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our business is a multilingual translation and interpreting company. We specialize in providing foreign language interpreters and translations for law and business, for ANY LANGUAGE.

Working in the law requires that we have a broad field of knowledge of all industries and science, as lawsuits involve all types of situations and often include personal damages and injuries.

As a company, we are most proud of our boutique client care. Despite the number of clients we work for, or how big or influential a client may be, every job that comes in is treated with personalized attention and care. Oftentimes large companies lose this special attribute in their growth, and clients feel that they can’t even get someone on the phone when they call, or there is zero accountability when something goes wrong. I never wanted to let that happen to us, and I never will let it happen. I still give every client my personal cell phone number, and reassure them they can always call me if need be.

I think what sets us apart as a translation and interpreting company, is that unlike competitors that are owned by venture capital companies or board members or businessmen, Adept Interpreting is owned by an actual certified interpreter and translator. My knowledge of the business is extremely strong, and I feel I can explain, defend or argue any aspect of the business better than anyone in the industry. This translates into a very strong passion for our work, as I understand the business from the client’s perspective as well as the interpreter or translator’s perspective.

I know what’s on the calendar on any given day, and I am available to help our clients with anything personally when it’s time to step in. The fact that the company’s owner is willing to help solve any problem goes a long way with our clients. It offers them peace of mind and reassurance knowing that someone knowledgeable is always here for them.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I like best about LA is its variety – the people, cultures, languages, religions, etc. This intense variety that exists in a city as large as this means a great opportunity for everyone, especially in business. Whether you want to focus on a business geared to a tiny and specific market or a huge population group, you can do it here in LA. The opportunities are here for you, you are only limited by how hard you work here.

I also put a very high value on our great weather and proximity to the ocean, where I try and spend as much time as possible when not busy with work. Being close to the ocean is very grounding and calming for me, and it is relieving to know the escape of the water is always under 30 minutes away.

Regarding dislikes, that same variety I mention that spells out opportunity means that there is an overwhelming number of people in LA. So that variety is ironically what I dislike most too. It’s a difficult balance – the opportunity is here, but the competition is fierce as there are a lot of minds at work here. This can be encouraging and discouraging at the same time, but it’s way better than a city where the opportunities don’t even exist!

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