Culturally Appropriate Legal Translation

Legal Translation ServicesToday we’ll discuss making sure your legal translation is culturally appropriate, lawful and accurate.  Legal materials need to be accurately translated into the language of your target audience, but this is not the only consideration. The laws, regulations and legal due process of the country also need to be considered. Below are tips for things to think about when creating legal materials that need to be used internationally, or domestically for non-English speakers.

Consider the Subject and Audience

What type of document are you translating? Who will be reading the document, another attorney or a lay-person? Is the document for use domestically or internationally?  All these questions need to be considered when drafting a legal document for translation.  For example, business agreements or documents for use within the United States use different terminology than a motion for a court proceeding in Brazil. While all legal documents tend to use very precise and technical language, you should be cognizant of the audience and the use of the document.

Consider the Terminology

Legal terminology, as well as individual expertise of subject matter, differs greatly from one legal discipline to another. Each legal professional has a specialty and the appropriate expert is necessary to get the best advice on a legal question. The same holds true when seeking a legal translation from a legal translation agency. Quality legal document translation agencies will provide linguists who are native speakers of the target language, and also have knowledge and experience in the subject matter and necessary legal language of the document.

legal translation servicesConsider the Law

Different legal systems in the world have different laws, regulations and due process.

  • Will the Document Hold Up - There are many factors to consider when creating legal documents. If it’s a written contract, is it thorough and does it include what both parties agreed to? Are witnesses required to sign the document? One or two? Is a Notary Public required? Legal professionals should carefully consider the laws in the countries for which they are writing the documents when seeking a translation and hire a professional with the appropriate expertise.
  • Be Cognizant Of Different Legal Systems – Having a U. S. case with multi-lingual speakers, is different than having a case in another country. If the case is international, make sure that any translations account for the differences in legal systems.
  • Edit – A legal firm would not release an important document in English without editing. The same goes for translated documents.  If it is important, always have it edited.  Often an English meaning can be interpreted in different ways.  For example, when translating a legal statement such as “Any person who shall maliciously and willfully discharge a firearm at an inhabited house, occupied building, … is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for seven years.”  When translating into Czech, you need the “at” for it to be appropriate grammar.  In English, it means you fired at the house, not at the people in the house.  The editor and translator know to ask the client what message they wanted to get the wording and grammar correct.

Legal document translation should be done by professionals who are educated and well versed in the laws, regulations and due process of the country for which the documents are being translated, who know the correct terminology, and who can provide culturally appropriate and legally sound translations.  An experienced, reputable translation agency will guide you in the law and toward the best words to ensure legality, accuracy and appropriateness.

Next time we’ll be talking about Website and SEO Translation for Legal Professionals.

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Categories: Language Translation & Interpretation, Legal Translation, Language Translation

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