Legal documents are a fact of life. We all use them, and we all need them while dealing with crucial financial and evidentiary matters.
However, in today’s increasingly globalised world, chances are that you’ll deal with documents in a foreign language at some point, or you’ll need your own documents translated to another language.
At that point, resorting to the services of a professional legal document translator is the best way to go. While there are plenty of apps and websites like Google Translate that can help with automatic translation of any given word – in legal matters, being correct and extremely accurate is essential.
Why Do You Need Legal Document Translation?
1. It may be mandatory
The most important reason is the fact that you may not have a say in the matter. Plenty of banks, courts, and other important institutions have rules that compel you to get a legal document from another country notarised and translated by certified professionals. Don’t worry, professional legal translation providers like LEXIGO can handle the entire process.
2. Avoid nasty surprises
Remember, legal documents are there to protect your interests. If you let a professional translate them, you’ll be safe knowing that no language-related troubles will crop up in the future.
This is especially important when you’re dealing with high-value transactions in different countries. In such situations, amateur translations can easily result in mistranslations, so rely on professionals, rather than supposedly bilingual buddies!
3. The stakes are high
When you need to understand the gist of an email or a single sentence, Google Translate and similar advanced technology platforms can be of help. These apps can also help when you’re in a new country and you want to order food or say a couple of simple sentences in the local language.
However, when it comes to financial statements, mortgage agreements, and other important legal documents, there’s really no room for error. A single mistranslated word can create a serious mess, so you want these documents translated by professionals. Some of these documents include:
- Bank accounts statements
- Mortgage contracts
- Insurance policies
- Birth certificates
- Marriage licences
- Academic transcripts
4. Legal documents are tough to understand
If you’re not a licensed legal practitioner, legal documents are often hard to decipher and understand, even in your native language! Now imagine the additional difficulty of dealing with a document in a completely different language. In every legal system across the world, there are tons of specialised terms and arcane legal language that even highly-educated people from other professions just don’t understand.
When you need one of those documents translated properly, you’ll need the help of a professional.
On top of being incorrect, badly translated legal documents can also result in tensions with local bureaucracies because they simply seem less credible than a professionally-translated one. Whether you’re translating an employment contract, a loan agreement, or any other type of official document, you need it to be legitimate.
How Can You Maintain High-Quality Translations?
Once you hire a professional translator, there are a couple of things you can do on your end to ensure you get the best possible translation.
1. Make sure the source material is good
No quality translation can happen without a well-made source text. If possible, have your original legal document checked for any grammar or spelling mistakes and legal errors. This will result in a quicker and more efficient translation. Also, if you need to use the legal document in another country, check to see if its format is suitable.
2. Give good and bad examples
If you’ve had other legal translations done in the past, sharing experiences with your new professional translators from LEXIGO is always a great idea. Show them examples of what you liked and what hasn’t worked for you in the past.
3. Help translators with an accurate glossary
Make sure your translators have an adequate glossary of legal terms for professionally translating your documents. They will also need content about the purpose of the document, and as much background information on the document’s format as you can give them.
This will ensure your translators can provide you with the most accurate translations for all the various legal terms in your document.
4. Give reasonable deadlines
Depending on what kind of translation services you need, the actual speed of the process may vary. Even with advanced CAT tools that most professional translators use, they will still need to go through your document several times, in both languages. That’s the only way to ensure consistency between languages.
While a one-page document should hardly take weeks, make sure you give translators a reasonable amount of time; at least if you want a great level of quality.
5. Collaborate with translators
The best translations are achieved when clients communicate with their translators regularly. If your translators have additional questions or doubts regarding style or terminology, take a couple of minutes to answer them. These kinds of details are what separate good results from truly great results.
Written by Sophia Dickinson, LEXIGO: Sophia is a writer and communications consultant with 10 years’ experience in the public service and not-for-profit sectors. She has also taught English in France and spent a year working at a local NGO in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She is passionate about writing, intercultural communication and languages (she speaks French, Indonesian and is learning Spanish). Read more about her experiences here.