The Importance of Legal Translation Services

Steven Spielberg

The field of law is complex and reflects cultural variations, making it more difficult for a foreigner to understand. Transparency is not inherent in most legal regulations and guidelines and language barriers can lead to misinterpretation that has serious consequences. Legal translation is the act of converting legal text from one language to another and it should only be performed by a member of an elite group of certified translation professionals.

Types of Legal Translation Services

Of the many professional translators available, some specialize in legal text. Regulations, legislation, and contracts are among the legal documents that commonly require translation. Organizations may require translation of legal settlements and competitor bylaws and individuals may request translation of passports, wills, and tax documents.

Legal translation is very technical in nature and requires high attention to detail. Translators must be familiar with the legal system on which the text is based and must understand the language used to draft the text. They must be competent enough in the native language of the text to translate it to the requested language. Linguistic structures and conventions used in the original language may be culturally-based and may not have an equivalent in the translated language. Translators may need to rely upon linguistic and cultural standard equivalents, based on theory and principles, to accurately translate text.

Certified Translation Affects Outcomes

Legal translation should never be left to a novice because a mistake can result in fines, lawsuits, or loss of rights. Even a judge or lawyer is not typically familiar with standards and terminology used in legal practice. These professionals turn to certified translators to help them understand and correctly interpret legal texts in another language. Documents may not be admissible in court unless they have been translated by a certified professional.

Translating legal text is a science and to be considered an expert, an individual must pass an examination. Courts, states, and professional associations offer different certification tests but most of these exams include both oral and written components as well as featuring an ethical component; certain states require translators to complete an ethical orientation before receiving official recognition.

When legal translation services are required, it is wise to consult a professional. These experts pride themselves on their precision, confidentiality, and timeliness. Some translators offer free quotes for their services, eliminating financial surprises. Though there is no obligation to use a professional legal translator, not using one is usually a huge mistake.

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