“Legal translation” refers to translations involving legal documents, or documents containing legal terminology. There are many scenarios where the importance of legal translation might become apparent, as explored in greater detail below.
Who Uses Legal Translation?
When someone moves to a country with a different primary language or otherwise must deal with forms and documents written in a language he or she cannot understand, accurate legal translation services may be needed. For example, a legal translation of an apartment lease could help a potential tenant make a more informed decision. Similarly, someone from another country who is facing a court proceeding in the U.S. might need the help of a legal translator to understand various court filings.
Common Source Documents for Legal Translations
Some of the most common documents for which legal translation services may be needed include:
- Arbitration documents
- Class action translation
- Court filings (complaints, answers motions, petitions, etc.)
- Court transcripts
- Driver’s licenses
- Estate planning documents such as wills and trusts
- Immigration paperwork
- Insurance policies
- Lease agreements
- Marriage licenses
- Medical documents
- Negligence litigation translation
- Nondisclosure agreements
- Service agreements
Understanding the Importance of Legal Translation
If you have ever tried to use an app or online service to translate something from a foreign language into English, you probably know that such translations can be comical. While an app may help someone get directions to a hotel or interpret menu items, legal documents require the knowledge and expertise of translators who are proficient in both the foreign language and in legal and technical terminology.
Inaccurate Translations Present Risks to Clients and Attorneys
The risks inherent in using free translation services, or in relying on a translator who is not familiar with legal terms, are many. On the low end of the risk scale, a poorly translated document submitted to a government agency or to a court could result in unexpected delays and unnecessary costs.
However, the stakes can be much higher; an incomplete or inaccurate document translation could negatively impact a client’s rights. If a client signs a poorly translated document thinking its terms and conditions are understood, he or she may be legally bound to something completely different. Attorneys who use general/non-legal translators to interpret documents may also face malpractice risk. Recognizing these potential risks, many courts require document translations to be authenticated or certified by experts.
Context and Formatting Considerations
When translating legal documents, it is not enough to simply translate each word independently. Words, sentences and paragraphs must be translated in the context of the entire document. Legal language and complex terms need to be interpreted correctly, as the meaning of the underlying document may very well depend on this construction. Legal translators also understand specific formatting requirements for various documents and prepare their translations in compliance with such obligations.
As a lawyer, you understand your obligation to maintain client confidentiality. Legal translation services understand this duty too, and have safeguards in place to affirmatively protect sensitive or confidential information. When using a general language translator however, those same protective measures may not exist.
Timely and Reliable Solution
Court-imposed deadlines and other document timelines must be met. However, such time restrictions do not relieve clients or attorneys of their obligations. Legal document translations provided by professional translators can typically be delivered quickly, allowing adequate time for attorneys and clients to review documents and address any questions.
Litigation Services Offers Reliable Legal Translation Services
The importance of accurate legal translation services cannot be minimized. As a full-service litigation support company, Litigation Services provides a range of services to law firms and attorneys across the country, including accurate, fast and cost-effective legal translation services. Our certified translators are carefully vetted to ensure they have the language proficiency and legal and technical experience you and your clients need. To learn more and to get started, contact us today.