“Translating is producing analogous effects by different means.”
Do I have to be a lawyer to be a legal translator? No, you do not! However, “as law is a culture-dependent subject field, the work of legal translation and its products are not necessarily linguistically transparent”. 1
The legal translation consists in translating, from one language to another, documents that have legal importance, whether public documents (official documents issued by an administration or a public entity) or private (drafted to regulate a particular legal business between individuals or companies). These can include, but not limited to General Laws, Contracts, Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights, Tenders, Judicial Transcripts, Appeals, Statements, Deeds, Certificates, Powers of Attorney, arbitration documents among others.
Very often, legal professionals have drafted these documents. Hence, containing a large number of legal concepts not used regularly in ordinary life a legal translator must be accurate enough or even the slightest mistake can lead to damages to one party or the other since legal effects are derived from these documents.
In legal translation services, a translator specializing in this field should be aware that it is not just about translating a text. When translating to another language, one has to keep in mind the cultural approaches, vocabulary, and sensitive issues understanding that legal vocabulary also varies from culture to culture so the translator has to be as accurate as possible, as clear as possible. Research is very important in order to understand the terms used.
Confidentiality is also another factor to consider. Because of the nature of these texts, a legal translator should always maintain the client confidentiality.
Time frames are also VERY important! Keep in mind that legal services operate under given DEADLINES, which in Spanish can be translated as “término fatal”… for what it is crucial to work with them. Once again, a damage can be caused by a delay!
Always make sure that the document is complete. Make sure that it is not torn, tattered, or dirty, otherwise, you must communicate it to your client immediately BEFORE accepting the job. A legal document is important and delicate and any of these can invalidate the document. If a document has to take effect in a foreign country, you must make sure that your client has Apostilled the document. Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to The Hague Convention. It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. States that have not signed the Convention must specify how foreign legal documents can be certified for its use. 2
To verify if a State is a member of The Hague Convention please go to the following link: https://www.hcch.net/en/states/hcch-members
If you want to specialize in the legal translation filed, bear in mind that some countries require a sworn or notarized translation of the document in order to go through the relevant legal proceedings. In the case where a translator is sworn, the translation is sworn in that particular country in order to legalize it. Below, a list of qualifications in some countries:
French Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with a Regional court of Appeal in France.
Spanish legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign affairs.
German Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Germany.
Italian Legal translation: Translations are sworn at the local Italian court of Justice on a case by case basis. Some legal translations need to be notarized by a notary and the relevant parties.
Austrian Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Austria.
Dutch Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Holland.
Portuguese Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Portugal.
Czech Legal translation: Translators swore and registered with a regional court in the Czech republic.
Polish legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Polish Ministry of Justice.
Romanian legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Romanian Ministry of Justice.
Turkish legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign affairs.
Venezuelan Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Venezuelan Ministry of Justice.
U.K. legal translation: no sworn translation system.
Argentinean Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Argentinean Ministry of Justice
U.S. legal translation: No sworn translation system. Translators are registered with the ATA (American translators association)
Mexican Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Mexican Superior Court of Justice
Norwegian Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Association of Government Authorized Translators.
South African Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the South African High Court.
Swedish Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the “Kammarkollegiet”. 3
Remember, our aim is to always produce faithful and fluent translations!
1Legal translation from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia