What is a Legal Translation?

Legal translation is a complex matter and should never be undertaken by someone who is not competent to translate legal documents accurately to the target language. The legal translator should be a native speaker of the target language and have a fundamental understanding of the source language. It is also important when considering an assignment of this nature that the translator has an understanding of the cultural aspects of the target language for translation. The cultural characteristics of the target country will play a key role in the way that the document is understood, to that the translator should be able to convey the meaning having adapted the original document accurately. Any mis-translation can have devastating consequences which may even result in legal proceedings against the company. It should further be understood that mistranslation can also offend; also the translator should be alert to any words that are similar such as personal/personnel, as a misspelling can completely change the meaning of the text.

Terminology plays a key role and the legal translator should have a full understanding in this area and be able to adapt the text from the source language to the target language without losing anything in translation. This requires expertise and experience. Legal matters are constantly changing throughout the world and the legal translator must be up to date with those changes.

Legal translation as commented upon, needs competence and with that comes the ability to scrutinise and re read ensuring throughout the process of legal translation that there are no hidden mistakes.

The area of legal translation is a mine field and cannot be taken on lightly; contract law; international law; corporate law; family, tax and immigration law; wills and affidavits, to name but a few and all subject to different regulations which in legal translation poses a huge headache, but, attention to detail is essential if it is to convey accurately what is required.

Finally, the legal translator must be able to guarantee complete privacy of the legal documents to be translated and must have a full understanding of the task required. This does not just mean the actual process of translation but the meaning of the text so that it will be clearly translated to the target language with full knowledge of the source text.

Why Outsourcing Legal Translation Services Is Important

There are few disciplines that emphasise precision quite like the world of law. Every single word has to be accurate and every clause needs to be strictly upheld. The stakes are a lot higher, too, when you’re dealing with multiple borders. And anything less than precision can mean the difference between losing and winning a legal case. There’s also the factor of being subject to deadlines and filing due dates in multiple languages.

It may seem cost effective to handover your legal translation services to your staff but do think about going down this route very carefully as it can end up costing you a fair deal.

Here’s why:

The Bilingual Employee Isn’t a Native Speaker

Possessing fluency isn’t enough. Legal translation services will ensure that their translators are native speakers of the target language. This helps with detecting cultural expressions and any other regional linguistic nuances native to the languages you want documents translating into. This is especially important when translating something like a record of testimony or emotional deposition.

An Employee May Lack Proper Translation Knowledge or Training

It is also important that translators have the necessary legal training and this is where legal translation services can help. A suitable linguist will have the native familiarity with local codes, laws and regulations in order to handle your projects.

This is particularly helpful for large translation initiatives where corporations and their documents tend to undergo intense scrutiny, especially those involved in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations and other compliance programs.

In order to ensure compliance and protect your firm’s reputation, doesn’t it make sense to contract legal translation services who have the in-house expertise for any branch of law you may require? It sure does.

Translation Technologies

To spare your firm any serious damage, entrust your foreign language materials with a reputable legal translation services company. They will be able to centrally store and manage your content with the help of a translation management system that they will be able to access at any time. You will also be able to generate on-demand quality reports on a variety of factors.

Furthermore, when it comes to cost savings, translation memory software greatly helps to reduce your spend by searching all the stored up translated content and making use of previously translated segments at a reduced rate. This also helps to make the translation process quicker.

Today’s technologies help to streamline translation project and are of particular use and relevance for legal professionals. They help towards increasing employee time efficiencies and possess a stronger ability to adapt to changing timelines and content volumes as well as cost controls. All very good reasons why translation technology makes fantastic business sense for successful legal translations.

Choosing to work with a reputable legal translation service provider can become a firm’s most time and cost efficient strategy. Make sure that the language service provider you choose has both the technologies and expertise that align with your unique legal translation requirements.

Is the Legal “Gene Pool” Too Contaminated?

I was watching repeats of a humorous gameshow called QI on the UK TV channel “Dave” the other day and Stephen Fry, the compare, asked the panelists a question:

“What did the Dik-Dik do that the Dodo didn’t?”

There were the usual humorous replies and verbal dancing round the handbags until the true answer came out; which was that the Dodo lived on an Island and had no predators, so when man arrived it had no fear of man and was therefore wiped out by hunters. Whereas the Dik-Dik, a small antelope the size of a small dog, lived in Africa and had predators all around it.

In fact everything from large birds to jackals and reptiles wanted to eat it and it was afraid of almost everything and so it learned to develop strategies for living and (unlike the Dodo) was still with us.

So the Dik-Dik hid from man and the Dodo didn’t…and the one with no predators ended up extinct.

The chat continued and it was mentioned that the fish in large tropical fish tanks are kept fit and healthy by the inclusion of a predator in the tank. The idea being that the large majority of fish in the tank have no desire to be eaten, so they keep a suitable distance from the predator fish; when the predator goes left, they go right and so on and the exercise does them all good.

The subject then moved on to Darwin and evolution and the fact that Darwin never said “Survival of the fittest” what he said was “It’s not the fittest or the most intelligent that survive but those most adaptable to change.”

So far so good, but what does this have to do with lawyers and the law?

Well, the next day I was reading (flicking through) a couple of law journals and towards the back they always have a page devoted to staff movements; you know the sort of thing, “Bloggs and Co are delighted to announce their new employment law partner Mr Smith, who has joined them from Briggs and Co” There were about 10 of these announcements in one journal and 14 in the other one, all saying the same thing.

What struck me was that the lawyers of one medium sized firm left and moved to the other medium sized firm; usually in the same city.

In the 24 examples that I read, 90% of them had simply traded employment in one medium firm for another.

I looked back at some old journals and saw the same thing with the same statistics.

What that tells me is that the thinking, processes and culture of one medium sized firm almost identically resembles the other; the only difference is the personalities of the partners.

On that very subject, I saw an article about lawyer personalities and what makes an ideal lawyer, but then I remembered something else that I’d read about a sense of self-importance; which is a subconscious element in most lawyers.

It went a bit like this: to become a lawyer, one must go through life as an achiever, otherwise you’d never make the cut.

As a student at school you must get decent grades. Your self-importance “thermometer” rises. This sets you apart from the others and you earn a place at Law college. To graduate you will have passed a number of exams and seen a number of your peers drop out for various reasons. Another rise of the mercury.

You are accepted for a Diploma or LPC place. Up another notch.

Some peers drop out and you pass. Up again.

You win a traineeship with a law firm. Click.

You finish the traineeship and become a qualified lawyer. Click.

After a few years of pay rises and titles, you are selected as partner material. Getting hotter.

After a few years as partner, dispensing advice to clients who come to you and pay you an hourly rate that is a weeks wage or more to many, your sense of self-importance is right up there.

Now tie that in with the Dodo, Darwin theory, the movement of partners between firms.

Lawyers have had no predators in the past. They are intelligent but not adaptable. They move from one firm to another that is almost exactly the same as the firm they just left and they have a sense of self-importance that means they do not and will not listen to advice.

In a Zoo, the gene pool needs some outside help otherwise the animals in-breed and that causes physical and mental deformities.

The changes that the UK Legal Service Act and Alternative Business Structure brings might just be the DNA that the legal sector needs to survive by giving it a much-needed injection of “business DNA” so that lawyers can start dealing with their customers in a more acceptable manner.