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What to Expect When Translating Legal Documents

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 expert 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.

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Your translation provider should request certain information be provided separately if anything within the legal text is illegible or difficult to decipher

If you have provided a scanned document to your translation provider and some of the text is difficult to decipher, supply that text whenever possible. If it is not provided or remains unknown, the translation team will write “[Illegible]” instead of trying to make a best guess. If there is text within a stamp or seal that you want to make sure is included in the translation, be sure to provide that as well. Otherwise, signatures, stamps and seals are often left translated, but will be marked as “[Signature]” and “[Stamp]” or “[Seal],” where appropriate, instead. 

Also, if the language you’re you request translation 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 can also be quite helpful. If you don’t, the team will do their best to portray it phonetically, which could potentially nullify the translated document if it turns out to not match another legal document with the same person’s name portrayed differently.

Different documents require different levels of certification or translator expertise

Determine whether your translation will require a sworn translator to complete the work or if a letter certifying the translation will be enough. Sworn translators are typically certified by their country’s government to execute a sworn translation of a document that is legally valid and binding in their 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, among other documents.

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 trials, such as evidence and transcripts, can often be accompanied by such a statement.

Depending on the country, where it will be presented or on the judge requesting the document, you may also need to have the translated document notarized or bear an apostille. An apostille is often issued by the embassy of a country that has signed the Hague Apostille Convention and is usually signed by an embassy official. Make it clear beforehand if an apostille or notarization is necessary for your document or case so that these steps can be handled on your behalf. You will also want to factor in the extra time it will take to get the notarization and/or apostille, as typically you must have the original translated document in hard copy to show the original seals and stamps necessary.

The specialized skill set of a legal translation team is vital to ensure accuracy and avoid possible legal issues

Even if you do not think you will necessarily need your translation certified, asking a bilingual friend or colleague to handle a legal translation not only risks the accuracy of the text, but can have potential legal ramifications if any of these issues affect the terms of the document they’re handling for you. The team of linguists who handles the translation must specialize in legal translation. Working with a non-legal translation team can seriously impact your credibility (and have possible legal consequences) if the translated document is found to be inaccurate or deviates from the original. 

Taking the appropriate steps to have your document translated professionally and correctly can make a difference in the translation’s validity in the courtroom or in other legal settings. As such, it is important that these translations be handled correctly. Be sure to use a professional agency or translation team, and always ask any questions you may have along the way.

Need a legal document translated or have questions about what you may need? Contact us to set up a consultation.

What the General Data Protection Regulation Could Mean for Your Company

If your company has access to data from customers 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 by the GDPR will be made effective on May 25, 2018. This not only affects companies based in countries within the EU, but it will also impact U.S.-based businesses that have access to data for their EU consumers. Since violating the new GDPR standards could result in serious fines for a company, we’ve put together a few key points to make sure you are ready for the changes coming up on May 25th.

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  • Do not assume you will not be affected just because you don’t have offices in the EU. All companies that have access to data from EU consumers need to be aware of the changes. If, for example, your company manufactures and sells products via a website that is accessible in Europe and provides the option to pay in Euros or British Pounds, this affects you, too.
     
  • The regulations do not only apply to data you collect moving forward, but retroactively as well. If your company has not already taken steps to examine and assess where all of your data is stored, it is important to begin now. Your organization 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 about them at their request.

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 company’s annual worldwide turnover. Fines this hefty could put some companies out of business. There are cyber insurance policies available, but whether or not to invest in this type of service will depend on every company’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 company may be impacted by these changes, it is imperative that you begin preparing now for the May 25 changes. Should you need help providing the information to consumers from any of the bullet points above in specific languages, now’s the best time to get the ball rolling and plan for 2018. We’re here to help!

Effective Online Real Estate Marketing: When Your Market Doesn’t Speak English

Marketing to an audience that doesn’t speak English can seem a little daunting if that’s the only language you’re comfortable speaking. The great news is, however, you don’t actually have to speak another language to effectively market to another demographic! You can market to this audience in a variety of ways, and one of the best places to begin is with your online presence, since so many people begin their real estate property search online. Here are 3 tips for targeting your non-English speaking customer base virtually.

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1.     Start with your website. Websites are a great way to interact with an audience that doesn’t speak English. Your buyers are most likely starting their property search online and searching for listings in their preferred language. If your website and listings are translated, they will feel confident in your agency’s ability to assist them, and appreciate that you’ve taken the time to tailor your content to them. Be sure to use a professional translator or agency to handle this. Errors caused by free translation tools can be extreme and have a truly negative effect on your brand, even though you have great intentions!

BONUS TIP! Utilize social media to your advantage. Figure out which social networks your target markets are using most and use those to reach out to your new audience. You may even look into hiring someone who is bilingual and skilled in social media marketing to draft posts and share relevant content in your target market’s preferred language.

2.     Develop a multilingual SEO strategy. Once you have professionally translated your website, you’ll want to consider a multilingual Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. If your website isn’t showing up in search results, the translation you’ve worked so hard and paid to complete will not provide much return on your investment. Analyze your audience and tailor this new strategy for them. You’ll find that it often differs greatly from what you’ve already created for your local English-speaking audience.

3.     Deliver an effective and targeted email campaign. If you are already sending out email newsletters to your clients, consider translating some of these for your non-English speaking clients. You may not have to translate everything within your newsletter, but if you know your client’s email address and preferred language, you can specifically target that group with your amazing your content. Email blasts in someone’s preferred language are more likely to drive traffic to your website and are a quick and easy way to stay in touch with those who have already decided they trust you enough to sign up for it! 

BONUS TIP #2! Don’t forget to ask for referrals or testimonials you can use in your marketing or on your website. Once you’ve driven more traffic there, it’s a great way for your new and/or potential customers to see why working with you is such a wonderful option.

You may also enjoy:

The Benefits of Translating Your Newsletter

How Social Media in Spanish Can Boost Your ROI

How to Use SEO For your Multilingual Audience

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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Get to Know the ATS Staff!

Each day this week we've shared how each of us at Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS) has come to work in the translation and interpreting industry. We hope this will allow you to get to know us a little better! Stephanie Lockman, Translation Project Manager While in graduate school at the University of Louisville (UofL) to obtain my M.A. in Spanish, I realized that I preferred the courses on translation more than any others. That same year, UofL began offering a Graduate Certificate in Translation, which was perfect for me!

In order to finish my coursework for the certificate, I needed to complete an internship in the translation industry. My adviser put me in touch with Madalena to help serve as a Project Manager for Accessible Translation Solutions. My internship was finished in 2013, and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to continue working for ATS over the past 4 years!

Marvella Duarte Coon, Project + Vendor Manager

I started interpreting at the Findlay Court House while I was a student at the university, approximately 15 years ago. It was a rewarding experience because I helped people to communicate and understand their legal rights and life changes that they were going to experience. Then, a friend told me about Madalena and ATS. I was excited to get back into this industry, because I wanted to be part of a great company and continue helping others. I did some translations that gave me the opportunity to use my native language, Spanish, and work on interesting projects. I am a PM and enjoy seeking the best linguists around the world who can help us fulfill communication needs for our clients.

André Zampaulo, Linguist + Consultant

Languages have always fascinated me. From Portuguese grammar classes in elementary school to learning Spanish, English, German, and French as foreign languages when I was young, I always knew I wanted to study and work with languages. In college, I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Translation Studies, specializing in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Having formal education and training in translation has helped me not only to become a better translator and be part of an exciting community, but also—and, perhaps more importantly—to reflect upon it as a linguistic, sociocultural, and commercial endeavor. As a linguist and consultant for ATS, I am very proud to contribute to the success of the company in delivering translation and interpreting services of the highest quality to our clients while also implementing best practices that help shape our industry.

Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, Owner + CEO

My career in translation ultimately progressed from interpreter to project manager to translator to business owner. A local translation agency hired me as the interpreting project manager just as I was finishing my graduate degree at the University of Louisville (UofL). I was able to work directly with interpreters we contracted for various assignments in many languages, and I couldn't get enough. After moving from Louisville to Columbus, Ohio, I began translating for agencies and direct clients, and in 2010, I opened Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS). This work is the most rewarding work I could ever ask for. I look back at the past 10 years and how my roles have shifted along the spectrum in this industry, and I remain humbled and thankful for the opportunities I’ve received and for the clients we serve day in and day out. No two days are the same. No two clients’ projects are the same. These are the things that keep me motivated and inspired to continue to lead ATS as the agency our clients trust with their customers, with their patients, with their employees and with their brands.

The Value of Multilingual Employees in the Workplace

With the ever-increasing globalization of the marketplace, having multilingual employees in your workplace can be of great benefit. According to recent Census reports, the population of non-English speakers in the United States has continued to rise over the past 20-30 years. Having one or multiple employees who speak a language other than English can give your business a definite edge in a competitive atmosphere.

Top Five benefits of hiring a multilingual employee:

  1. If you are looking to expand your business to a new market, a multilingual employee can be a great asset. Let’s say this client base does not speak English natively. They may feel more comfortable speaking to someone in their native tongue, trusting your company more, as a result, and increasing your chances of gaining them as a client.
  2. Building a multilingual customer service department means drawing in a customer base who feels confident in their ability to do business with you. They know that if they do have any questions or concerns, they will be able to address these things seamlessly in their native language. When customers feel comfortable, they are more likely to buy.
  3. Someone who has taken the time to learn another language has often learned about the cultures where the language is spoken in the process. When working with clients and customers from other places, understanding a few nuances about their culture and what may or may not be important to them can make a difference in how they perceive your brand.
  4. A professional translation agency is key to handling translation and interpreting services, since it already employs translators and interpreters with the proper experience, education and training for these skill sets. An employee who knows another language will likely be able to assist with smaller language-specific tasks, but it is dangerous to assume that he or she is as comfortable in writing as in speaking. The two skills are quite different, and when your brand is on the line, it’s vital to ensure a professional translation. In addition to speaking verbally with clients and customers as previously mentioned, if you receive an email or mail correspondence in another language and need a quick understanding of the gist of the message, or if you wish to set aside time for an employee to review translated content through the eyes of your customers, multilingual employees would be quite effective.
  5. The benefits are not simply linguistic in nature. Studies from the National Institutes of Health and Northwestern University have shown that individuals who speak multiple languages typically have a stronger ability for both multitasking and processing information more quickly and efficiently than monolingual individuals.

What has your experience been like with your multilingual employees? We would love to hear about benefits you’ve encountered that we may not have mentioned. Feel free to leave a comment below!

So, what languages can you handle?

Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS) handles a wide array of languages, and this selection of languages is ever-growing. For our most current and up-to-date list of offered languages, please see our List of Languages. If the language you are looking for is not listed here, that does not mean we are unable to provide the service, however. This list of languages is constantly growing depending on our clients’ needs, so we recommend contacting us even if you don’t see the language you need listed.

Our list of languages that we currently offer displays all languages for which we already have a team (or several teams) of linguists we’ve assessed, worked with, and approved to offer quality translation and/or interpreting services for you. Although we have linguists already approved for these language pairs, we will ensure that the best linguists we can provide are assigned to your project. If our current available linguists do not have experience working in the field your project falls into, we will be glad to use our available resources to recruit a team who will be best-suited to perform the work on your project, whenever possible. For example, if your document is a rental agreement, and our linguists with expertise in legal documents are unavailable, we will then recruit another team to ensure the best possible translation.

This is also true for the languages not currently listed on our page. If the language you are working from or into is not listed on our page, please contact us and let us know the details of your project. We will then be able to begin recruiting a team for your project type. We do all of the recruitment and assessment of linguists so that you don’t have to, and so that you can feel comfortable knowing that the right team of linguists is working to provide you with the best service possible. Our Project Management Team will also oversee the project from start to finish, handling all linguist communication, file passes, and quality control. This way, by the time you receive the translated files, you can be sure they have been handled not only a professional team of linguists, but also a quality control check to ensure your files are ready for use in your target language. No matter which language your document would need to be translated from or into, Accessible Translation Solutions is willing and glad to assist with the best team of linguists for your project.

Translation vs. Interpreting

When it comes to the language industry, it is important to know if you will be need translation services, interpreting services, or both. The key difference between the two lies within the channel of communication you require. Translation deals with written communication whereas interpreting is a form of oral communication. You will need a translator if you are looking to have written communication such as legal contracts, medical records, website verbiage, newsletters, articles, or books in another language. Conversely, interpreters work in real time. If you need to ensure someone who speaks another language understands what is being said at a conference or meeting, or during a court proceeding for example, you will need to seek an interpreter.

Since translation focuses on the written word, a good translator will ensure the entire meaning of a text is rendered correctly when written in the target language. Translators must be extremely well versed in the grammatical and linguistic rules of both languages to ensure the message is transmitted appropriately for the target audience. Although the message will often not be transmitted word-for-word because of stylistic and lexical differences between the two languages, the meaning will always remain the same. A professional interpreter will also ensure the original meaning is captured when speaking the message into the target language, so he or she will also have an excellent grasp of both languages, just like a translator. However, since interpreting is carried out in real time, the interpreter must also have the ability to listen to the source message, and simultaneously or consecutively transmit the same message in the target language accurately.

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A translator has the ability to research unfamiliar terms or ask the client questions, whenever possible, to ensure the most correct term is used during the process. An interpreter serves as a facilitator between the speaker and listener, and cannot pause to look up terms or interject his or her own understanding of the conversation during the event. It is often said that the speaker and listener will forget the interpreter is present during a conversation or event, since the interpreter will have been able to maintain the flow of the conversation/announcement without interruption or issue. A professional interpreter will interpret the message in first person, i.e. he or she will not say things like “He said…” or “She wants to know…” Instead, a professional interpreter will maintain the conversation by using the speakers’ statements, e.g. “I want to know…” or “Can you tell me…”

If you would like to receive a free quote for either your translation or interpreting needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to provide a free quote for you.