GABT: German American Business Translation

On Translating

Choosing the right translation provider can save attorneys time, expense, embarrassment and perhaps worse.

Translation consists of the transmission of concepts from one cultural context to another and requires an understanding of two languages and two legal systems. Simple one-to-one equivalence may not exist between the code-based systems of Europe and the common law tradition of the US. The translator must make choices. Here are a few guidelines to be sure your translator will make educated ones.

Analyze your requirements.

What is your source language and your target language?

Is technical terminology involved, and what kind?

Does the translation need to be certified?

Screen prospective translators.

Is he or she accredited? By whom? How many years of translating experience?

If specialized terminology is involved, do they have the technical background needed?

Can she or he provide references?

Negotiate your terms.

Rates are quoted on the basis of the computer-generated word count of final product.

Deadline, technical difficulty, and the legibility of the originals will all affect the rate.

Work with your translator for the best service and results.

Provide background information and documents about the issues involved. Designate a contact person at your firm whom the translator can consult. Discuss other options, such as sight translations, summaries, etc.

For more detailed information, please see our Crossings article on this web site. Here you will find a detailed discussion of screening and working with a professional translator, based on over a decade of experience in the field and interviews with lawyers who share their own tales of successful — and less than successful — experiences. This article was originally published in Legal Management magazine, which is distributed in the US, Australia and New Zealand, and subsequently reprinted in over half a dozen publications for the bar.