5 effective ways to meet translation deadlines despite text difficulties
In the legal field, meeting deadlines is crucial.
Whether we’re dealing with court proceedings, government submissions, or tender applications, not meeting a deadline can result in serious financial losses. This can also result in months and sometimes years of work done for nothing.
It is therefore crucial for lawyers to be laser-focused on the legal deadlines they are expected to meet.
One type of deadline that lawyers must set internally to meet their deadlines is the translation deadline for certified translations.
When a lawyer needs a sensitive document translated into another language, they often set very tight deadlines for the translator. Or they will do the translation themselves and expect the translator to agree with the product and to “just put their name and stamp” under the translation.
These practices can, and often do, cause more harm than benefit.
So, how should certified translations be managed in a way that works for both lawyers and translators?
Well, let’s have a look!
Let the translator do your certified translations.
I sometimes get requests from lawyers to “just” certify a translation that’s already been done in-house.
And these are not my favourite mandates.
Well, to start with, not all lawyers are excellent at drafting legal documents from scratch in their native language, for example contracts.
These individuals have the knowledge that needs to be put into these documents. However, knowing is not writing. And it is certainly not writing in a different language.
Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of legal texts, especially contracts, drafted by lawyers that were not just overly complicated and confusing, but that also used inconsistent terminology.
These lawyers then often proceed to translate these contracts into another language.
And these translations cannot, by definition, be better than the original document.
As a result, certified translations of inaccurately translated documents cannot be produced without a thorough review.
And as many translators will be able to confirm, it can be quicker and hence cheaper to do certified translations from scratch than reviewing and then certifying a translation.
What’s more, the lawyer who performed the translation is typically working in a different jurisdiction and time zone. This means that he or she is likely to be using terms that aren’t necessarily used in the place where the certified translations will be used. By the time they receive feedback on their translations and respond, the deadline may be about to expire.
Getting certified translations done from scratch by a lawyer-linguist and certified translator is therefore one of the most effective ways to meet translation deadlines, as the time for back-and-forth communication gets reduced.
Provide a high-quality original document to maximize high-quality certified translations
This ties into the previous section and may seem like an obvious point to be made.
But again, experience has shown that many legal texts submitted for certified translations lack proper and consistent terminology and are overly complicated.
Obviously, this is often beyond a lawyer’s control. If they receive a poorly written document from the counterparty or a court, something that is not unheard of, they cannot modify the document.
If, however, there is a chance to improve a document and clarify its meaning, then that is a significant help to the translator and ultimately, the law firm.
Provide a glossary of preferred terms for efficient communication throughout all your certified translations
A law firm can have many reasons as to why it prefers one term over another.
And as we all know, communication is key.
In the legal field, the same word can frequently be translated in more than one way.
For example, the words “agreement” and “contract” can both be the title of a legally binding written contract.
Another example would be how a law firm refers to itself. Depending on their place of business, they may prefer the term “law firm” or “law office”. One is not better than the other.
They’re just different, and knowing which one is preferred makes the process of producing certified translations faster.
Any translator offering certified translations to law firms will be over the moon to receive a glossary with preferred terminology. This is because it minimizes subsequent change requests and, hence, makes it more likely that a translation deadline will be met.
Want the highest quality for your certified translations? Be available for questions
A lawyer’s workday is about billable hours.
Understandably, a lawyer cannot be available all the time.
However, taking a few minutes to discuss urgent matters with your translator will pay off at the end.
A translator who understands a legal text well enough to spot inconsistencies is an indispensable asset.
They will be the ones with the courage to admit when things aren’t 100% clear to them. And let’s face it: in law, things are very often not 100% clear.
Keep them on your team by being available and collaborative.
Being able to review a translation with a fresh set of eyes makes a real difference for certified translations.
Finally, don’t let your nervousness take over.
If you need a translation by a certain date, then absolutely communicate this to the translator and allow yourself enough time to review the translation, ideally before certification.
However, a day or two more can make a huge difference in a translator’s workflow. This is because it allows them to look at their work with a fresh set of eyes. That reduces the likelihood of mistakes.
What can you do then to work with your translator towards a reasonable deadline for certified translations?
5 effective ways to meet translation deadlines for your certified translations:
- Your translator should handle the certified translation. They have the experience, technology, and routines to do this for you. Reviewing a legal document might take longer than translating it, and you may end up losing time and paying more by trying to save in the wrong place. And please don’t ever ask your translator to certify a document without reviewing it. That would be like asking you to sign a contract without reading it, which is not recommended.
- If possible, provide understandable and accurate text to translate from.
- Get into the habit of providing glossaries of preferred terminology. If you’re working in a small firm, this may not be necessary. However, larger practices often prefer certain terms for several reasons. Sharing this information with your translator will help them produce certified translations that represent your firm the way it wants to be represented.
- Make some time to answer your translator’s questions if possible. A 10-minute call can save hours of review and re-certification.
- Don’t set a tight deadline for “fun” or out of nervousness. This may cost you more time than you think.
If you have any German, English, or French legal documents that need to be translated into English, French, or German, I invite you to take a look at my services or send me a message directly right here, so you can get a quote within 24 business hours.