Legal documents are a fact of modern life—which begins with one certificate and ends with another. And in today’s increasingly globalized world, it is more and more likely that at some point, you will have need of a professional legal translation service. It could be that you get hired to work in a foreign country, or maybe you’re looking to buy property overseas—or sell property you already own.
The law is a complex subject—practically a foreign language unto itself—and every country has its own dialect. Even if you happen to speak the language—even if you speak it well—it is nevertheless vital that you use professional translation services for any legal document. The risks involved are too high to try it any other way.
#1: The law requires it
For starters, you may not even have a choice. Many courts, banks and other institutions require any official document from another country to be translated and notarized by a certified professional. A professional language services company will handle all of that. Just send them the document and enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that your translation will be accurate, certified, signed, sealed, and guaranteed to meet with the approval of whichever authority requested it in the first place.
#2: No nasty surprises
Legal documents are supposed to protect your interests, and having them translated professionally from the get-go will ensure that no challenges crop up in the future. Imagine you bought that beach house in Colombia, and a few years later you decide to sell it—only to learn that there is a lien on the property from the previous owner. It turns out that the Colombian Spanish term for lien is frequently mistranslated as right-of-way. Every pro knows that, but it’s news to you—and to your supposedly bilingual buddy who “helped out” with the translating. Oops!
#3: The stakes are too high
Sure, Google Translate can give you the gist of an email. Or if you’re traveling and you want your steak cooked medium-rare, a pocket phrasebook will help you get your point across. But when you’re dealing with important legal documents like mortgage agreements or financial statements, one wrong word can get you into serious trouble. Finding out that you can’t sell your beach property until you pay off some other guy’s tax debt—all because of a false cognate—will ruin your day in ways an overcooked steak cannot.
#4: Google Translate is not a licensed legal practitioner—and neither are most humans
Legal writing is difficult to decipher—even for native speakers. The difficulty is compounded when dealing with a foreign language, as legal documents are often packed full of arcane language and specialized terms that most people—even very well-educated people—simply aren’t familiar with. It’s not enough to have a bilingual buddy give it a try—and you can forget about any app on your phone. To translate such documents correctly, you need to call in a professional.
A badly translated legal document is like a fake ID or an expired driver’s license—you just have to hope nobody ever looks at it too closely. When you’re translating a loan agreement, employment contract, or any other official document, it’s not enough for it to appear legitimate—it needs to be legitimate. A document translated by a friend, coworker, or Google Translate may seem “close enough,” but when you run into trouble, you’ll wish you’d done it right the first time.
#6: Personalized service and attention
When you’re dealing with government bureaucrats—especially in a foreign country—it’s easy to feel lost and alone. It’s easy to feel like the people behind the desks don’t care about you. (They don’t!) But you don’t have to go it alone—nor should you. Having a professional on your side to help you through the process—who is willing and available to answer your questions and assuage your doubts—does wonders for relieving stress.
#7: Even lawyers have lawyers
As the old saying goes, “the attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Dealing with bureaucracy is no picnic—and the last thing you want is to have to do it all over again. Professionals inhabit the tedious, arcane world of legal documents day in and day out. That’s what makes them professionals. They’ll get it done right the first time—so you can get on with your life.