Have you ever heard of the term ‘legalese’? Well, if you haven't, let’s explain a few things. Legalese is basically the informal term used to describe the special language of legal documents. As someone who’s fluent in legalese, you’ll need to know how to both read AND write legal documents, and this involves being knowledgeable of the all-important legal terminology.
It’s not just lawyers, solicitors, or attorneys who directly work in the legal sector that are fluent in legalese – legal translators need to be experts in legalese too. The very best legal document translation requires the translator to possess a lot of technical skills and legal experience, that’s for sure.
Let’s take a look at the 5 most important aspects of undertaking successful legal translation.
What is legal translation?
Just like other types of translation, legal translation is the process of interpreting and converting the language of legal documents/materials into another. The different types of legal materials include but are not limited to contacts, wills and trusts, policies, licenses, and court transcripts.
It’s a legal translator's job to respect the original source material and ensure the text communicates and represents the same core meaning, just in a different language. As a result, legal translators usually come from a legal background and are well-informed on technical legal processes.
1. Creating comprehensive translations
Legal translators must ensure the translations they write up are fully comprehensible and readable. Whether they use an automatic translation system or type out the document by hand, legal translators need the skills and knowledge to perform high-quality translations without any errors or mistakes.
2. Following style and format
Depending on the client, legal translators must be capable of following the specifications of a style guide. These requirements are non-negotiable and they’re especially important for making sure your translations are clear, coherent, accurate, and precisely what the client needs.
3. Understanding the document type
As already mentioned, legal translation involves working on a huge variety of complex legal documents, so the very best translators are those who know how to take on all of them – not just a few. Important steps should be taken to identify and understand the differences between each type of document. Then each document should be accurately translated according to its context.
4. Having subject know-how
Familiarity and subject knowledge leads to expertise. However, understanding the complexities of legalese can take years of working in law. You need to gain valuable experience in the sector to be the best at your job. As well as being well-versed in technical terminology, legal translators must also be aware of the governing laws and regulations that make up legal institutions.
5. Being trustworthy
Confidentiality is super important in legal translation services. You must remain professional and be 100% trustworthy when handling the legal content of documents. Your clients must trust that their information is in safe hands and you won’t leak or pass on any information, even if it’s accidental.