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Translating Foreign Legal Documents: What to Remember

Legal translation is a very complex task, and it’s one that not just anyone can take on. A translated legal document must be able to stand up in a court of law and therefore needs to be translated, edited, and perfected by a team of linguists who can make this happen. Here are a few things to consider about the translation process when you find you need to have a foreign legal document translated.

  • It is imperative that the team of linguists who handles the translation specialize in legal translation. Working with a non-legal translation team can seriously impact your credibility (and have possible legal ramifications) if the translated document is not found to be completely accurate and true to the original.
  • If the language pair you’re translating into/from uses a different alphabet or series of characters, supplying your translation provider with parties’ names to ensure that they are listed correctly on the translated document is vital. Otherwise, they will have to make their best guess of how to portray it phonetically. If text is difficult to decipher on the scanned copy, supply that text as well. If it is not provided, the translation team will write “[illegible]” instead of trying to make a best guess. Signatures and stamps/seals are sometimes not translated unless requested, but will include “[signature]” and “[stamp]” or “[seal]” where appropriate as well.
  • Determine whether or not you need a sworn translator to complete the work or if a letter certifying the translation will be sufficient. Sworn translators have been certified by their country to execute a sworn translated document that is legally valid and binding in his or her country. Examples of documents that must be legally valid in a foreign country—and so, are often handled by sworn translators—are birth certificates, patents, and proofs of identity such as a driver’s license, state ID or passport.

    A certified translation, on the other hand, is accompanied by a signed statement affirming that the translation is accurate and complete to the best of the translator’s knowledge. Documents used for hearings or trial, such as evidence and transcripts, can often just be accompanied by such a statement.
  • Depending on the country it will be presented in or the judge requesting the document, you may also need to have the translated documented notarized or bear an apostille. An apostille will be issued by the embassy of a country that has signed the Hague Apostille Convention and is usually signed by an embassy official. Please let the agency know if an apostille or notarization is necessary for your particular document or case so that they can ensure these steps are handled on your behalf. You will also want to factor in the extra time it will take to get the notarization and apostille, as typically you must have the original translated document in hard copy to show the original seals and stamps necessary.

Since taking the appropriate steps for your translated document can make a difference in its validity in the courtroom or in other legal settings, it is important to make sure to handle them correctly. Be sure to use a professional agency or translation team and always ask any questions you may have along the way.

What the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Means for Your Law Firm

If your law firm collects, stores or uses personal data from citizens within the European Union (EU), it is important to understand what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will mean for you. The new data protection standards put in place by the GDPR will take effect on May 25, 2018. This not only affects practices based out of countries in the EU, but will also impact U.S.-based firms that have access to data for EU citizens. Since violating the new GDPR standards could mean serious fines for your practice, we’ve put together a few key points to make sure you are ready for the May 25th changes.

  • Under the GDPR, your law firm will be considered a “data controller” as opposed to a “data processor” since you have the ability to state how and why personal data is collected.
  • The regulations do not apply just to data you collect moving forward, but retroactively as well. If you have not already taken steps to examine and assess where all of your data is stored, it is important to begin now. Your practice will need to make sure you have the ability to do the following with this data, according to the new regulation’s standards:

           - Erase a consumer’s entire data profile at their request;
           - Provide information to the consumer about exactly what data you are processing, where
              you are storing it, and the purpose this data collection serves;
           - Provide the consumer with a copy of the personal data you’ve collected on them at their

The consumer also has the right to question and fight all decisions that may impact them if the decisions were made on a purely algorithmic basis.

  • Failing to meet the requirements of the GDPR could result in a fine of up to $23 million or 4% of your firm’s annual worldwide turnover. If these fines are implemented, it could put some practices out of business. There are cyber insurance policies available, but whether or not to invest in this type of service will depend on each practice’s individual needs.

The standards put in place by the GDPR are quite different from the more liberal U.S. approach to consumer data collection, so if your firm may be impacted by these changes, it is imperative that you begin preparing now for the May 25th changes to be sure your data collection methods are lawful under the new standards.

The Unsung Roles of Court Interpreters

Court interpreters are vital in ensuring that your Limited English Proficiency (LEP) or non-English speaking clients understand the legal proceedings just as if they spoke English fluently themselves. However, interpreting during proceedings is just part of what court interpreters do each day. Here are 4 things you may not realize about the role of court interpreters.  


1.     Court interpreters are always learning and improving to maintain the appropriate skillset needed to remain at a highly proficient and professional level in the court setting. Just as language is always evolving, so is the law. Interpreters often take courses and seminars to stay up-to-date in their field of expertise in order to ensure they are providing the best legal interpreting services in and out of the courtrooms. Not only do they need to stay up-to-speed with new legal terms and court procedures, they also need to remain current when it comes to language that may be used by clients within the courtroom, including changes to regional dialects and slang.

2.     There are various methods for court interpreting, depending on the scenario. Most court interpreting is done via simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter may wear a set of headphones with a microphone and interpret in real time for the client, who is also wearing a headset. However, not all courts are equipped with these headsets, and/or the setting may call for consecutive interpreting instead. In this latter scenario, the interpreter waits until the speaker has completed a sentence or thought before he or she begins speaking.

3.     Interpreters often work in teams to avoid fatigue. Interpreting for any length of time can come with mental and physical fatigue. Because of this, team interpreting is an industry standard for proceedings that last longer than 2 hours. This helps prevent being overworked, and alternating between two highly qualified interpreters will help the proceedings move more quickly, efficiently, and accurately—a definite benefit for you and your clients.

4.     They are often asked to do sight reading/translation of documents presented during the trial. The interpreter must then read the document in one language, and recite what it says aloud in another language so that all parties understand what it says.

How has your experience been with court interpreters? If you’ve come across anything in your experience that surprised you when working with an interpreter, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know by leaving a comment!

Do You Know When to Call an Interpreter for Your Next Client Meeting?

Do You Know When to Call an Interpreter for Your Next Client Meeting?

Good, clear communication can be difficult enough to accomplish when you and your client both speak the same language. If your client does not speak English at all or has limited English proficiency (LEP), then the task of communicating during your client meetings is especially problematic. Whether discussing the facts of your client’s potential case or deposing a witness with limited English abilities, it is important to know when to bring in an interpreter. Here are just a few examples of when to call in a professional interpreter to assist you.

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