For legal professionals navigating complex multilingual matters, moving forward without a well-crafted legal document translation strategy can feel a bit like walking into a minefield. Failure to accurately translate legal documents can result in damaged attorney/client relationships, contract invalidation, adverse rulings and more.
Legal document translation strategies, of course, vary depending on the documents involved and the use case. And, the level of translation detail will vary based on each document’s end-use. Whether you’re dealing with discovery documents, court records, depositions, contracts or interview transcripts, knowing the intended use of each document will help prioritize your workflow.
Here are some recommendations to achieve—and maintain—the highest possible quality level across all your legal document translations:
Determine the ultimate use of the translated document
Approach every legal document translation project with a clear understanding of where the document will ultimately be used – and share this information with your translation provide early on. Knowing your intended use case will help save time and ensure all documents are translated according to jurisdictional requirements.
For example, during discovery, simple machine translation can help you get the gist of multilingual documents and help you cull through large data sets more quickly. Once you’ve identified the documents you need, you can focus on quality. Some courts will require certified translations, which attest to the translation’s accuracy, paving the way to submit the document into a legal proceeding. Other instances may necessitate authenticated translations, which attest to the legitimacy of the translator via notary signature. International and US jurisdictions have varying requirements for certified or authenticated translations, so it is essential to know exactly where and how you plan to use each document.
Utilize a project management system
Many language service providers (LSPs) use project management systems for progress tracking, deadline management, collaboration, and more. Knowing the status of every document enables your project managers to direct their attention to more complicated or time-consuming document translations. And reliable project management systems help control timelines, budgets and accuracy. Most reliable translation partners should have platforms and tools that empower you to track your projects easily.
Select a translation partner with a verified quality management system
All translation providers have a baseline level of quality assurance, but not all companies dedicate a department to quality management. Look for partners who are committed to quality management and can walk you through their process for ensuring accuracy and preserving quality.
A partner certified to the latest ISO standards means that their processes are tailored to protect the quality of every translated document.
Take advantage of CAT tools
Quality translation requires experienced human translators, but utilizing computer-assisted technology (CAT) tools can also help ensure consistency. Translation memory tools, like the industry-leading software MemoQ, help store specific phrases to deliver consistency across projects. This can be especially important when translating legal documents.
Partnering with a language service provider specializing in terminology management and glossary tools can also help increase consistency across documents and ensure quality outcomes.
Never compromise on quality
Quality management is an essential step in the process of every legal document translation project. Pay attention to the processes your translation partner uses to ensure quality, including project management tools, computer-assisted translation technologies and any applicable ISO certifications. These signs indicate your language services provider takes the quality of their output as seriously as you do.