As a law firm, there are countless ways to work with language. You speak with clients and opposing counsel face to face in depositions and trials. You communicate through written documents such as briefs, discovery documents, and court documents. There’s probably not a billable moment in your day that doesn’t somehow include language.
When you have a client or opposing party who speaks another language, managing those communications becomes difficult. So when does your law firm need legal translation services?
What is the translation of legal documents?
Legal document translation is the process of changing legal documents from one language to another, preserving their original meaning and preparing them for use in a legal setting. This process often requires specialist translators with an understanding of their country’s law and the legal implications of their work.
There is a wide range of legal document translation services available to help you. These services include legal document translation, certified legal translation, legal interpretation, onsite staffing, eDiscovery support, document production, transcription, and legal localization. With Lionbridge, clients are paired with legal translation specialists who serve as partners in managing complex legal documents.
Let’s dive a little deeper into these services and their potential use cases.
Electronic discovery (E-discovery) in foreign languages
Electronic discovery, commonly referred to as electronic discovery, is the process of examining information that is or may become evidence in a litigation or investigation. This is an integral part of the activity of a law firm. Regardless of your area of practice, most documents you will review are typically digital. During your discovery process, you need to be able to research and produce all kinds of electronic documents, from computer-generated real estate documents to secure emails.
You must be able to review and process these documents in any language. Even if you only work with English-speaking customers, you may find that your customers communicate with people in other languages. To understand the evidence at hand, you need to translate multilingual eDiscovery content using an experienced legal translation agency.
At some point in your career, you may need to submit documents for international litigation. If this involves the translation of documents into the native language of the court, you should know that you are submitting an accurate translation. In other cases, you may need to translate a document provided by an opposing party.
In the United States, a requested document must be provided in a usable form, pursuant to Rule 34(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, this rule does not specifically apply to translations from one spoken or written language into another.
If you receive a document in another language, you are often responsible for translating it. You may have to pay the associated fees, but the responsibility of finding a good legal translator is still yours. When the outcome of a case depends on the quality of your translation, it pays to find an experienced partner.
Legal interpretation services
Lawyers must frequently interview or take statements from witnesses who speak other languages. Correspondence and documentation must be precise and accurate regardless of the language in which it is provided. The legal interpreter must provide not only a translation of the speaker’s words, but also an indication of their tone of voice, non-verbal expressions and nuances of their meaning.
All verbal testimony requires this level of precision, whether in court or out of court. During this time, the interpreter must be able to translate high-level courtroom language into the witness’s native language. This requires an intimate knowledge of the translated language as well as legal English.
Legal Localization Services
Serving clients from different cultures makes for a rich and rewarding career. But communicating with all of your customer base can be difficult, especially when some customers are located in different countries.
Localization goes beyond translation, allowing you to communicate with or take statements from multilingual clients while preserving the cultural nuances and feel of the original statement, as well as its precise meaning.
Legal localization is also important when marketing your legal services or publishing research in another language, where misunderstandings could harm your clientele or reputation. You can’t afford for your public-facing material to seem inaccessible or foreign to your potential clients or colleagues in other regions.
If you localize your content, you will seem more relevant. Your material will look and sound like it originated in your client’s culture, which will help build trust in your new market.
Certified translation services
When you have a certified document to show in court, you can’t take any chances on its accuracy. In the United States, where the legal system does not have a specific process for certifying translation services, it is up to legal practitioners to do the work of finding an experienced translation team.
When it comes to certified documents, this team must consist of several people. Certified translation is a multifaceted process that involves several revisions of the translated document side by side with the original source. Professionals from multiple disciplines must work together to make this happen.
At Lionbridge, we employ experts who can translate legal documents into over 350 languages. We have a dedicated team that not only translates but also submits a full quality assessment of our work product. For certified material, an expert linguist steps in with a line-by-line assessment to ensure that every aspect of the translated document is correct.
The case of legal translation
In the legal profession, words are everything. An entire case may depend on the nuances of a single word. This importance is only heightened when it comes to translation or interpretation.
Years of litigation have resulted from seemingly minor errors. A certified translator can save you all of these hassles and associated expenses.