How to ensure you’re getting the best legal translation services

Check translation services are the best with these steps

Legal translation is one of the most important translation services available. Without proper legal translation, contracts could be unclear or even legally void. Local regulations could be violated. A lawsuit could even result.

What does a legal translator do? A legal translator translates legal documents. Some legal translation agencies also handle court interpreting. With how important this service is, focusing on quality when you check translation processes out is an absolute must. Below, we’ll cover ways to source the best legal translation services.

1. Ask around your professional network

Referrals are the backbone of the business world. 87% of frontline sales employees, 82% of sales leaders, and 78% of marketing professionals all agree that referrals are the best leads you can get in a B2B environment.

In terms of their value, referred customers have a 16% to 25% long-term customer value and a 60% ROI over six years.

It’s not any different in the translation world. Like choosing a lawyer, word of mouth can help you connect with the best legal translation services. If someone in your network has worked with a legal translator, they will be able to tell you what it was like to work with that agency or individual translator.

If your personal network doesn’t have any leads, you will need to turn to searching online for terms like “legal translator” or “legal translation services” and looking into the reputations of the firms that you find.

2. Check the background of each translation service

Whether you source someone through your network or via an online search, it’s important to assess the background of your prospective legal translator.

How to vet the background of a legal translator:

● Make sure their website looks up-to-date and professional
● Check past work that the translator has done through testimonials, past work portfolios, or references
● See what education the translator has or if they belong to any professional organizations; most universities have translation and interpretation courses
● Check reviews online for the translation service and consumer affairs/consumer advocacy groups that cover which translation services are the best

3. See which certifications the translator has

Legal translation is a fairly regulated service, meaning legal translators can obtain professional certifications to demonstrate their abilities and confirm their understanding of best practices within their sector.

The premier certification association for translators in Australia is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). The NAATI certification requires that translators undergo training prior to sitting for the certification exams. It’s a robust way to ensure that translators have been properly educated in translation.

NAATI also allows tests candidates who want to become certified legal interpreters, so if you are in need of interpretation services, this is an important qualification to look out for.

4. Make sure the translation service operates professionally

You should also check to see how the translator or translation agency handles documents. How do you translate a legal text? A good translation agency will be happy to explain and will have systems in place to assure translation quality.

A translator may go through several steps in translating a document:

● The translator will take instructions from the client on the tone or message to be preserved
● They will get a feel for the document by reading over part of it and jotting down notes on tone or key terms
● The translator will then go over the document line by line, translating the text, often with the assistance of computer-assisted translation tools
● The translator then compares the document to the source text to make sure the message has stayed intact
● After a break, a final review includes re-reading the document in the new language to make sure it flows

This is a sample process. The process could look different based on how big an agency is or the individual translator. Large agencies may have many people reviewing different stages of the project. Many translators also work with translation glossaries or other software to keep terminology or tone consistent.

The important point to keep in mind is that there should be some type of process that includes multiple stages of review to make sure your document is of the highest quality. Make sure to ask what that process looks like as you vet the translator or translation agency.

5. Understand how legal translators communicate

Pay close attention to how the individual translator or translation agency communicates. A good translator will be forthcoming in answering all of your questions in good time. In relation to the point above, for instance, they should be able to outline to you what their translation process looks like step-by-step and how they assure quality at every stage.

Also, pay close attention to how quickly the translator responds to messages. The translator should be timely in their responses and be detailed in how they respond.

If a translator is difficult to communicate with, it might be hard to work with them further down the line. Late communications could end up leading to missed deadlines. And if the translator is poor at communicating, they might not understand instructions or feedback you might have on the document before and after translation.

Finding a good translator or translation agency isn’t that much different from finding an employee. The person should have a strong background with relevant training and qualifications. They should have soft skills such as top-notch customer service and have a professional, organized way of working. If you can make sure that the translator has the qualities listed above, then you should have a smooth and professional legal document translation in no time.

Ofer Tirosh
Ofer Tirosh
Ofer Tirosh is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Tomedes, a language service provider.
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