In 2011, the South Korean government demonstrated firsthand the importance of accurate, meticulously reviewed legal translations. It was forced to revisit the translation of a free trade agreement not once, not twice, but three times due to an accumulation of over 200 translation errors.
As you can imagine, this resulted in public embarrassment and delayed agreement discussions. But South Korea was also said to have spent the equivalent of over $27,000 on an ineffective third-party review of the translation that was supposed to ensure its accuracy.
This is just one example of how not having the right people and processes in place when translating legal documents can be costly. The key to avoiding these and worse issues is to choose your legal translation services wisely, but what should you look for?
What to consider when choosing a legal translation service provider
Here are five things you should evaluate when considering a legal translation company:
- Quality control processes. Even the smallest errors can have serious legal implications, resulting in delayed proceedings, disputes, or even litigation. No matter what, the service provider you choose must be equipped to catch and correct issues before they cause commotion. Look for indicators of strong quality control processes, such as ISO certifications, multi-step translation reviews by several linguists, quality guarantees, and the use of artificial intelligence to automate quality checks.
- Subject matter expertise. Of course, linguistic expertise and even a strong understanding of legal systems, concepts, and terminology are important. But, for the sake of translation accuracy, it’s often also critical for translators to be familiar with your particular industry or domain.
- Security and confidentiality. Investigate the policies and protocols of any legal translation agency you’re considering, specifically regarding document handling and data security. Make sure your data is encrypted, and get non-disclosure agreements signed to keep your information secure.
- Speed and turnaround time. Fast turnarounds are often essential for legal documents, so ask about average speeds and the availability of rush delivery options when needed.
- Translation memory technology. Translation memory improves consistency across your legal documents and other texts generated by your company. Not to mention that it enables faster translation workflows, and also reduces translation costs, so you don’t have to pay for translations you’ve already approved in the past.
Where can you find a provider that ticks these boxes?
5 experienced providers of professional legal translation services
There’s no shortage of translation companies available, but here are some common go-tos for companies and organizations across industries.
Smartling has a network of native-speaking translators at the ready with both the linguistic and legal expertise necessary to translate legal documents. All of our translations are backed by a 100% quality guarantee. We leverage a mix of carefully vetted linguists and technology like translation memory and automated quality checks to deliver accurate translations.
- Customers have enjoyed both 20% reductions in translation costs and quality increases of up to 90% quality thanks to our translation services.
- For maximum security and data privacy, we maintain PCI Level 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, and GDPR compliance.
- Besides human translation services, we also offer access to AI-powered translation tools that deliver 350% higher quality translation results than alternatives. These include the Neural Machine Translation Hub, an AI-enabled tool that selects the best MT engine for your content to give you the highest quality translation results, in seconds
- Our services may not be suitable for smaller companies since we primarily support enterprises in managing translation at scale.
Transperfect, which has over 30 years of experience, offers legal translation for corporate, intellectual property, compliance, and litigation language. The company can translate everything from merger and acquisition due diligence documents to trial transcripts and witness statements in many language pairs.
- All of TransPerfect’s legal translators have passed the company’s linguist certification program and must pass subsequent evaluations to remain certified.
- All translated text goes through a series of quality assurance steps to ensure property use of legal language, compliance with local regulations, and so on.
- Besides translation, Transperfect offers legal localization to adapt legal content for different target markets while still ensuring accuracy.
- Some customers feel TransPerfect’s services are expensive. (Source: Google reviews, TranslationReport)
- A couple of customers had issues with the use of machine translation for their projects when a human translator would have been better. (Source: Yelp)
U.S. Legal Support
U.S. Legal Support offers fast standard and certified legal translation services, insurance carriers, government entities, and more. The company can translate documents of various sizes and types, including legal documents and contracts, financial statements, real estate documents, and even text messages and WhatsApp conversations.
- U.S. Legal Support can deliver legal translations in a wide range of languages.
- While its team is based in the United States, the company’s linguists are familiar with regional differences as they relate to general language, legal terminology, and specialty language within specific domains, such as medicine or finance.
- The company also offers live or remote legal interpreting services, transcription, court reporting, and so on.
- While machine translation is offered in addition to the company’s professional translation services, only 10 language pairs are supported.
- Some customers have had issues with U.S. Legal Support’s customer service and the overall customer experience. (Source: Yelp)
GTS Translation Services
GTS, which has been in business for over two decades, can translate a wide range of legal documents such as contracts, court transcripts, patents, depositions, and statutes. Besides having a network of translators in over 100 countries, this company also has translators with much-needed legal expertise.
- You can get an instant quote for your legal translation project by simply uploading your document to GTS’s online quote tool, selecting the industry, and selecting your source and target language.
- GTS also provides transcription and translation of audio and video files.
- GTS promises 100% confidentiality (as any good legal translation company should) and will sign non-disclosure agreements at your request.
- GTS supports fewer than some competitors, meaning its services are not as flexible.
- Several customers have mentioned issues with non-responsive or unprofessional customer service. (Source: Google reviews)
RushTranslate is another popular choice for translation of patents, contracts, licenses, affidavits, and more. The company offers both certified translation starting at $24.95 per page and standard translation starting at $0.10 per word.
- RushTranslate offers fast 24-hour turnarounds.
- You can request to be mailed physical copies of your translated documents.
- In addition to optional notarization service, RushTranslate can provide apostilles.
Cons: While the company has many good reviews, numerous customers have had issues with translation errors and inaccuracies. (Source: IsAccurate) RushTranslate’s customer service has been unresponsive and unhelpful when it comes to troubleshooting quality issues, according to some customers. (Source: IsAccurate)
Meeting your legal translation needs
No matter your industry or domain—law, finance, real estate, insurance, or otherwise—there are many reasons you may need legal document translation services. Regardless of what legal texts you need translated and why, though, the way you should choose a professional legal translator or translation company is the same.
Look for a service provider with linguists who have not just language skills but also expertise in the legal field. They should have strong quality control processes and leverage translation technology to consistently and efficiently deliver high-quality translations. Not to mention that data privacy and security should be a top priority.
Smartling ticks all of these boxes and more. How can we meet your legal translation needs? Learn more about our full-service translation solutions for legal teams.