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Translating Legal Documents

February 7, 2011

Every type of translation requires a specific set of skills and expertise from the translator. For legal translations—which can range from translating a contract to translating thousands of foreign legal documents for a major litigation case—precision and accuracy is a must. The translation must be absolutely correct and accurately reflect both the meaning and intent of the source document. There must be no ambiguity in legal translation, nor can the translator “insert” words that were not in the original or paraphrase the text in any way.

But in translating legal documents, legal knowledge and expertise alone is rarely sufficient. Legal translations often deal with complex scientific and technical subjects, like biochemistry, engineering, and wireless technology. A translator must understand both the legal terminology and the related technical and scientific subjects of the document.  A legal translator may have the perfect background to translate immigration documents, but be out of his league translating documents related to pharmaceutical litigation. That is why when Morningside selects legal translators for our clients’ projects, we insist that they have both an educational background and specific industry experience in the technical field or practice area of the documents in question. This is the first, but critical step, in ensuring a precise and accurate translation.