While there are many people in the world who are fluent in two or more languages, the number with the levels of proficiency required for accurate translation is far smaller. Of these, fewer still have the necessary experience, credentials and certifications for professional translation. When you narrow down your criteria to those who specialize in legal translation, you are left with a comparatively small number of people indeed.
Are translators with a legal background really necessary? After all, surely all translation is substantively the same?
This common misconception could not be more wrong. Translators with a legal background are essential if you want to obtain translations that accurately convey the meaning of the original documents. The quality and accuracy of your translations can have a profound impact on the outcome of your case.
Legal cases can often hinge upon the interpretation of language — in some cases just a single word. Legal systems vary widely from country to country, as they are based upon different histories, cultures and legal traditions. Legal terms themselves do not always translate directly from one language and culture to another. A non-specialist translator is always in danger of mistranslating legal terms due to a lack of familiarity with particular legal jargon and phrases in a legal context, leading to misunderstandings, added costs or even the collapse of a case or breach of a contract.
Specialized legal translators will also ensure your document is properly formatted for the target audience. The formalities of different legal systems can add extra levels of complexity to source documents, and specialized legal translators can use their experience to preserve the meaning and technical details of the source document while complying with the formatting requirements of the target audience.
By using translators with a legal background, you not only benefit from an increased level of accuracy and translational rigor, you also save time. An experienced legal translator will bring their niche vocabulary and familiarity of the legal system to the translation of your document.
These honed skills and prior levels of knowledge allow them to proceed at a faster pace than a general translator, who will have to constantly break from their work to clarify terms, familiarize themselves with vocabulary, and otherwise equip themselves with tools that a specialized legal translator is already familiar with. These added requirements increase the amount of time that a general translator must spend on the document, leading to increased costs, longer turn-around times and less room for careful verification and double-checking of your translation.
The importance of accuracy, clarity and preservation of meaning across translations in the legal field makes it clear just how essential specialized legal translation is.