Translators who provide legal document translation services are not run of the mill translators. Many of them have had previous legal experience and have extensive knowledge of legal terminology that stands them in good stead when they are entrusted with legal document translations.
The special skills of the legal document translator
In fact, legal document translators must have a number of skills which are hard to come by. They need a good, working knowledge of the two or more Languages they translate. They also need to know legal terms in both the two or more languages. This is not as easy as it sounds as most terms are linked inextricably with the legal system of that country and this may not correspond exactly with the legal system of another country whose language the document is being translated into. That’s why the translator must have a working knowledge of both the two legal systems and may be even more specialized in different branches of the law.
A legal document translator, for instance, may be most familiar with criminal law, family law or business law, just to mention three areas of the law.
The demands of legal document translation services
Legal document translation services demand very precise translation methodology. There is no room for personal interpretation of the document that is being translated as there may be with other types of translation. A translator who handles marketing translation, for example, is given a certain amount of creative license to adapt the content to the target market, who may have a unique culture and dialect which is different to any other. Literary translators are similar in that they tend not to literally translate what they have to translate but convey the essence of what the writer is trying to say in their own language.
This doesn’t work in legal document translation. The translation must be as literal as the legal systems allow. It must be as accurate as possible. Any mistranslation can have enormous and far reaching consequences. History is replete with legal translations that have not been carried out professionally and have ended with missed business opportunities, court cases that are delayed or canceled, even delicate negotiations between nations that are severed because the wrong message is conveyed.
Not all legal documents are complex
Not all legal document translation services deal with complex legal documents. Some legal document translation is more mundane but still important. This includes the translation of personal documents intended to support applications for employment or immigration. Marriage certificates, birth certificates, educational qualifications and employment records, just to mention some of the more common examples, are all legal documents, but tend to be more standardized. Many translation agencies will be able to handle these sorts of legal documents as their translators get used to the types of documents that are routinely used in the countries whose languages they translate.
In short, if you have legal documents that you need to translate, choose a legal document translation service that employs translators with specialized legal knowledge, unless you only need relatively straightforward personal documents translated for you.