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How Complex is Legal Translation?

Lawyer providing Legal Translation

Written by Bernadine Racoma

November 19, 2020

The legal industry is regulated, and legal issues vary from country to country. That alone makes legal translations quite complex.

This means that only professional translators specialized in the legal sector should handle legal documents. Legal translation is one of the special sections of translation service and is considered a premium service. It requires precision because a single error can have serious consequences, such as lawsuits and financial losses.

Legal translation covers several areas. Translators handle various documents for legal translation, such as:

  • Property labels
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Litigation and arbitration documents
  • Patents and trademarks
  • Depositions
  • Court orders
  • Statements from witnesses
  • Immigration documents
  • Agreements
  • Contracts
  • Financial documents
  • Transcripts
  • Identity documents
  • Precedent
  • Official reports
  • Legal rulings
  • Wills
  • Licenses
  • Powers of attorney
  • Registration documents
  • Letter of credit
  • Passports
  • Adoption papers
  • Insurance policies
  • Affidavits
  • Real estate titles and leases
  • Legal disclaimers
  • Certificates of birth, death, and marriage
  • Sales contracts and service agreements
  • Trusts

What makes legal translation different from other translation services?

It is almost a regular occurrence for legal translation to be complex due to the challenges that translators face. Translators have to contend with the tone of voice and register and niche terminology when translating legal documents. They have to understand the meaning of legal terms in both the source and target languages.

Accuracy is critical in legal documents. There is no room for ambiguity because inaccuracies can create delays due to revisions, damage relationships, and invalidate documents.

Further, the legal system differs by country, which renders legal translation challenging. Often, the laws and legal concepts in one country do not have an equivalent in another country.

Legal-speak is wordy, and lawyers and legal professionals are used to writing, reading and understanding legal documents. The legal profession has its own language full of multiple subjects, unique terminology, and complex compound sentence structures. Thus, legal translation is not for everyone.

A legal translator should have years of experience in the legal sector and have a deep understanding of different legal systems and terminology. The translator needs to know the legal system in the source and target languages, and they have to draw on their experience, training and knowledge to provide 100% accurate translation of legal documents.

Additionally, the translator has to be mindful of the tone of voice. In English, the legal text is often formal and passive, while other languages use active voice, which makes translation more difficult.

Adding to the complexity is the country’s regulations for legal translation. In some countries, the legal translators should be legal and business translation degree holders. In the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden, legal translators should take a legal oath. These countries also give tests to make sure of the practice and proficiency of the legal translators.

Can I translate my own legal document and have it notarized?

There are simple documents for informal use, such as between family and friends, which can be translated by a bilingual person. However, it is not advisable to translate your own legal document. First, given the complexity of a legal document, the rules and practices that govern legal translation prevents you from doing the task yourself.

A translated legal document is often submitted to formal institutions in your country or another country – law offices, the courts, government institutions, corporations, and organizations. The translation has to conform to standards, which only trained legal translation professionals understand. Some institutions require the translation to be certified, and others require certification as well as a notarization.

It has to be emphasized that the laws, requirements, rules, and regulations differ from country to country. If you do not have the experience and training, you can’t understand the country’s legal system that needs your translated documents. Moreover, the unique legal terminology differs. There are legal concepts that exist in one country but do not have a counterpart in another country.

Keep in mind that legal documents are susceptible, so it requires a professional legal translator to handle its conversion. Even a simple mistake can lead to misunderstandings. A small error can have a huge backlash. It can invalidate the translated document. You may have to spend more to rectify the error, contact all relevant offices, and have the document translated again. It can lead to legal issues that will require the court to settle. It can also have financial repercussions, from costly lawsuits and canceled contracts to financial payments for damages.

What to look for when hiring a legal translations company

A legal firm that wants to hire a legal translation services provider must ensure that they are getting a translation company with the experience and expertise in the sector. Like their profession, where everything has to be clear and precise, they should find a provider with the right tools, system, and legal translation experts to fulfill the requirements. Here are the attributes you should look for.

  • Translation quality. Aside from the samples of legal translation work they have done for other clients, a law firm should look at the translation firm’s work processes. They should know how the firm chooses their legal translators, how they conduct quality control, and the quality of their editing and proofreading processes. They should also require the translation firm to show their industry accreditation and methods of handling translation errors.
  • Many translation companies accept all types of translation services. While other companies specialize, even if a company handles various types of translation, see to it that they have a team that only handles legal translation, which can help you with legal support services. It is also essential to know if their legal translators are qualified and certified.
  • Reputation of the company. You should work with a translation company with proven experience in legal translation. Another thing to check is their client roster. Check online reviews and references. If possible, get in touch with them to get their feedback regarding the translation company. You can benefit from their years of experience because they already have dealt with foreign cultures. They should be proficient and able to meet deadlines, which is crucial in your business.
  • The legal translation provider should be accessible and responsive because there will be times when your need for translation services is urgent. Look for a translation firm that will send you a project quote within minutes.
  • Company size and project price. A company’s size does not indicate that it can provide you with the service that you expect. You may have to go through several people if you are dealing with a large company. It is better to find a company that fits your firm’s size and budget, a company that is willing to work and grow with you, with the expertise to handle all your requirements and charge you fairly. Check their pricing structure since this will affect how much you have to charge your clients for the translation services.
  • Privacy and data security. These factors are important, as both you and the translation company will be handling sensitive documents. Ensure that the legal translation services provider has the required privacy and data security protocols to maintain confidentiality and privacy.

There are several other factors to consider, but these are the most important to ensure that you are dealing with professionals in legal translation.

We are up to the challenges of legal translation services

You do not need to search any further because you have come to the right place. Here at eTranslation Services, we have professional legal translators who have years of experience behind them in the legal sector. They have linguistic expertise, cultural knowledge, training, and certification to handle sensitive legal documents. They adhere to the stricter requirements of legal translation. Let us discuss your legal translation requirements at your convenience. Kindly send us an email at contact@etranslationservices.com or call us at (800) 882-6058.

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