Top legal translation tips
When it comes to documents with legal content, having the correct words and phrases is very important. A small mistake can lead to a criminal getting away with a technicality or an innocent man being sent to prison. When it comes to translating legal material, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the exact meaning is conveyed into another language.
Legal translation is a specific branch of translation, dealing with the highly specialized terminology of the court system and ensuring that all meanings are correctly explained in a different language. In this guide, we’ll explain legal translation in more detail, as well as what to expect from the process and how to ensure that the best people are employed for the job.
Here are our top ten tips to help you with legal translation:
Know what you really need to translate
Before you start looking for a translation partner, make sure you know exactly what you need to translate. There are a number of different specialties within the legal system, such as criminal, immigration, labor, or maritime law. Depending on the case, each different branch will require the translation of certain documents. However, it may not be necessary to translate all of your material. Determining which parts of your content need and not be translated can save you time and money.
Know what languages are needed
Once you have determined what needs translation, you need to clarify which languages are required. Although this seems simple enough, regional dialects can have a habit of complicating things. Laws generally apply to an entire country or territory, but there can often be multiple languages and dialects spoken within it, each with its own unique idioms and terminology. Understanding these variations is very important. If in doubt, a good legal translation company will hire specialists with knowledge of the relevant language and field of law.
Working with the best
There are many people who offer legal translation services, but it is important to be completely sure that whoever you choose will provide you with an accurate translation. There is no room for mistakes in legal translation. Before making your final decision, you need to thoroughly research the market. The ideal candidate should have experience in the field of legal translation and a good knowledge of the law in the relevant countries. They must also translate into their native language.
Defining a glossary
Defining a glossary of terms is an important part of any translation process, but never more so than when it comes to a legal translation. The law is full of important words and phrases that have a very specific legal meaning. It is very important to ensure that they are translated correctly. Agreeing on a list of terms before the translation process begins reduces the margin for error, ensuring that the exact meaning of a term is perfectly clear.
Choose a formatting style
When relaying all information about the project to your translation partner, remember to inform them of your preferred format style. Legal documents are generally presented as a bilingual document, where both the original language and the translated language are presented side by side, or as a monolingual document, fully translated into another language but maintaining specifications such as the source and format of the original.
Learning about the law
Most countries in the world now have their own judicial systems, and each will come with its own laws and language. A clear understanding of the relevant legal system is an absolute must for a successful legal translation, and although your translator must handle this, it never hurts to have some local knowledge yourself.
Your legal document is likely subject to strict privacy guidelines. Try to understand how your documents should be handled. Security is very important when it comes to legal material, and agreeing with your translation provider how content will be stored and transferred before the process begins can really help minimize risk.
Keep in contact
Try to be quite practical with the translation project. At the beginning of the process, gather all the reference material you can find to send to the translator. Stay in touch with them throughout the project. Doing so helps to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that any issues are resolved quickly. A good translation company should send you a translated sample at the beginning of the project. If they don’t, ask to see a sample and then provide feedback on style and terminology.
Making sure he stands his ground in court
After the translation is complete, check the document before signing. Some legal translations will need to be validated by the translator to be accepted in court. Although a watermark is normally used, a statement signed by the translator will also suffice. Make sure the document is proofread, if necessary, by using a reverse translation. This is the process of translating the document, back to the original language, to ensure that the translation is 100% accurate. Good translation companies should include this as part of their service.
Keeping up with changes
New amendments to existing laws are continually being issued. Even the smallest changes can have an impact on large groups of people, and each change in the law may require you to modify your translated legal documents. Keeping up with the latest updates allows you to keep your documents up to date. A good relationship with a legal translation company can go a long way in this regard. They should use memory software that quickly accesses translated documents that can then be modified as needed, saving time and money.