While mistranslations can be humorous under most circumstances, they are not a laughing matter in the legal field. The legal translation of a document is a challenging and complicated process that isn’t quite as simple as translating the text for word for word.
Unlike other sensitive documents such as medical reports, which use terms that have set definitions formed through a consensus of the medical community, legal documents contain words that can have entirely different meanings depending on the legal system they’re from. For instance, several European languages will have two words for the English word “Law,” each with a slightly different meaning. Conversely, different words or phrases from the legal documents of two countries may actually have the same definition.
A proper legal translation entails taking these factors into account, and reproducing the document while retaining as much of the interpretation and flow of the original content. A poorly translated legal document can lead to a considerable waste of time and money in the form of delayed court hearings and lawsuits, among other things.
Because of the sheer number of complications that legal translations can have, law firms or companies that need their legal documents translated to a different language are advised to seek the help of a professional translation company.
A good translation company will include a staff of veteran translators within its ranks, often with several years of experience in providing legal translation services using their target language. Aside from outstanding grammar and editing skills, these translators will have an in-depth understanding of the cultural context of the legal documents they work on.
Unlike several countries in Europe, the United States does not have a universal form of certification for translators working within its borders. However, this is more due to a lack of certification, accreditation, or screening for several languages, than a lack of quality.
Uncertified translators working in the U.S. are perfectly capable of producing quality legal translation services that comply with stringent international standards such as the ISO 9000. There are also a variety of tests that can determine a translator’s proficiency, such as those provided by groups like the American Translators Association.
A good translation company will also assign each law firm client a designated account manager and translation team. Aside from streamlining the procedure, this also ensures that their documents will be handled by a dedicated staff that is not distracted by other translation projects.