May 2003 - If you are using bilingual employees or handheld devices to translate legal documents, you could be in serious trouble. Liz Elting, President and CEO of TransPerfect Translations, one of the world's leading translation companies, said, "It's not about simply translating words from one language to another. It's about understanding the specific terminology and conveying it in native-speaking terms that really matters."
In an increasingly demanding legal marketplace, more and more law firms are opening overseas offices or at the very least, working to get more international business from current clients. Using an experienced legal translation company is key. When selecting one, check references, ask colleagues who have experience using translation companies, find out how many linguists are working within the company, ask what services they provide, ask if they have legal experience.
There are a number of things one must consider before translating legal documents:
- Translators should be industry specialized (legal, pharmaceutical, financial, technology) and experienced at using industry specific terminology.
- Using native speakers of the target language is recommended whenever possible. The importance of understanding the nuances as well as the intended meaning of the source and target languages cannot be underestimated. For example, a misplaced comma in this Russian translation can reverse the meaning in this sentence (similar errors can occur in other languages as well):
1. Means execute (the criminal), do not pardon (him).
2. Means do not execute (the criminal), pardon (him).
- Keep the same translator(s) throughout a case and a terminology glossary to keep the consistency in word selection as well as the flow of the document intact since different translators may use different terminology and have different styles.
- Be aware that languages are broken down in groups or classes for pricing purposes. Spanish and other Romance languages will be least expensive.
- Industry rule of thumb is about 10,000 words per week. If a patent translation won't be needed for 10 business days this should be made clear to the translation company, as it can guarantee superior quality.
- Decide what type of translation deliverable best suits your needs, e.g. complete translation, document summaries, on-site interpretation or document identification.
- Consider the subject matter of the material and decide whether a translator should have a legal and/or other specific technical background.
Law firms of all sizes are learning that to work globally, they need to work and speak locally. While English is the dominant language in international business, it will not be the conduit for international business growth. Elting concludes, "Legal professionals have many options available in seeking outside help. There are several thousand translation companies that vary in size and capability. Some are mom and pop startups, some are single language providers, some specialize in legal translation, and others are full service firms and have capabilities in more than a hundred languages. Selecting the right language partners will make life easier and help ensure you better represent your clients. And at a time when client service is the main catalyst for growth, you can't afford not to."
With revenue of over $250 million, TransPerfect is the largest privately held language services provider in the world. From offices in 66 cities on 5 continents, TransPerfect offers a full range of services in over 100 languages to multinationals worldwide. With a global network of over 4,000 linguists and subject-area specialists, TransPerfect is the largest translation company to be fully ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038:2006 certified. TransPerfect is headquartered in New York and has regional headquarters in London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit our website at www.transperfect.com.