Five things to look for before hiring a legal document translation agency

In the sea of the legal translation industry, you can only catch the best fish by understanding your own requirements.

There are a few jobs in the world that grab utmost respect not only because of the talent involved but also for the precision it demands. Surgeons, for instance, are one of the highly respected professionals who provide precision in their job and need to be error-free! Likewise, people who offer communication services, especially translation agencies, need to offer precise and error-free documents in any given language. 

When the work is narrowed down to legal translation, the pressure on the translator rises because mistakes are inordinately expensive to afford. If you are looking to translate contracts, complaints, files, agreements, summons or even evidentiary tapes, in all the instances, a quality service provider with 100% accuracy will be your choice.

Every day, a legal attorney, an advocate or the company’s legal department requires crucial documents to be translated. The requirement often comes at the eleventh hour and leaves very little time to screen and onboard a legal translation service provider. But this is an essential exercise. Without this bare-minimum due diligence, you might end up hiring the wrong agency and pay a heavy price later. Take a look at these top 5 aspects before you start shipping your valuable and confidential work.

1. Data security:

This is one of the most important aspects when it comes to legal translation. The translation agency must value the confidentiality of the legal documents. Do they work with your competitors? If so, what kind of services are being provided? Are the teams handling your legal documents quarantined and different from the ones managing your competitors? Do they have appropriate legal agreements with the network of linguists or translators to whom the work is shipped? You need to get a clear written response from them for these questions.

2. Specialization in the legal industry:

It is important to know if the agency has previously served other clients in a similar domain; whether they can support your business with other needs like legal interpreter services, an in-house library of laws about countries in which you are operating and so on. You can then go in for a specialized agency or a full-fledged agency, which has an extensive experience in legal translations to their credit.

3. Quality of delivery:

This is not easy to find out, yet a crucial one for selecting the right legal translation agency. Quality here means error-free documents, perfect translation in any language, following the due processes for pre-translation and post-translation, for instance proof-reading. Apart from the sample, do check if they have proper accreditations from reputable industry-recognized organizations and quality certifications such as ISO 9001, ISO 17100, etc.

4. Translation process:

It is important to understand who would be doing the translation: people or machines. In both cases, the accuracy should be on point. There are agencies that employ professionals or local legal linguists for the task or have upgraded softwares that provides maximum and swift translation results. Then, there are others who use both for efficacy. The last breed of agencies is rare but ideal. They can bring speed with language translation tools and use expert legal language professionals to complete the process and make the document error-free.

5. Adherence to timelines:

Not all documents come with the same tag of urgency. But some documents need to be translated accurately and produced before an authority in another country at lightning speed. At this time, the support SLAs of the agency becomes critical. Even though this sounds minor, do check their standard level of response, holidays, support during emergencies, escalations, etc.

Once these things are taken care of, then the atmosphere is set for discussing the pricing and other fine-prints. It is not easy to extract such information about an agency in one go. They get revealed over time and during interactions with the staff of the agency. If you are operating in multiple countries, it is better to apply these five yardsticks and onboard a legal translation agency, even if you do not have immediate work to be shipped.

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