What is the difference between an “Attorney-Translator/Revisionist” and a “legal translator”?
I’m sure that we all remember…
The years of preparation in acquiring the correct use of the English language and developing solid logic skills in order to consider sitting for the law school entrance exam.
The sleepless days and nights spent studying. The study aids, study group, trial exams.
In my case, I had to take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). It was not an “impossible” exam to pass with preparation, but it was indeed, for me, a challenge to retrain my mind to think like a lawyer. I can remember the headaches and backaches from sitting at my desk (or kitchen table) in the same position for hours on end, memorizing concepts and improving my response times with a stopwatch.
The years dedicated to the study of law. I remember reviewing every legal concept imaginable both in the classroom as well as with the books and texts (I am well aware that specialization in a specific area of law requires an analysis that goes far deeper than my general legal studies). It is only having worked with the drafting of and the translation of highly technical commercial transactions over the years that has given me a certain level of expertise. I was hard for me to learn and/or understand some legal concepts, but I was finally able to do so with a great deal of study and thanks to the help of classmates and professors, who gave me a variety of opinions and means regarding the various mechanisms, elements, conditions, exceptions, etc., leaving me with the task of deciding what works in the real world.
In my law studies in the US, there is/was an intensive focus on jurisprudence (precedent). Of course, I had to carefully study millions of cases (a slight exaggeration), always appeals level. The facts of the case, the identification of the issue(s) to be decided, the arguments including those of the devil`s advocate, the application of the law (statutory, regulatory, etc.) to the issues to be decided and, the conclusion and ruling(s). And then the appeals of the same lower court decisions… refusals to review, affirmed, affirmed in part, affirmed with observations, with modifications, remanded with instructions, etc.
So many cases… tons of books… mandatory backpack replacement. The law library became my second home. The old days, right?
The memorization of statutes and their particular elements, codes, the articles, regulations (CFR’s – federal). Thousands of hours (no exaggeration) of study, preparation.
Ring a bell?
The bar exam… a piece of cake for so much effort. Months, weeks, hours of preparation with a stopwatch. So many areas studied but not questioned. (Really not a true reflection of what the true practice of law entails, in my humble opinion). But everything I learned has served me in some way, both as a practicing attorney and now as a bilingual legal communications expert.
I now especially enjoy drafting pre contracts, contracts and preparing their mirror images in the other requested language. I’m not so crazy about putting on the professor’s cap and being the chief revisionist of my little company, but I have trust issues when it comes to the delegation of this frustrating task.
Sound a little familiar?
Moving forward, I acquired tremendous experience (not taught in law school) while in practice and now as a “consultant”. During my practice I filtered the facts as set forth by potential clients tossing aside the residual, deciding, in my humble opinion, the validity of their claims or assertions based upon the various legal avenues that could be travelled (always with alternative dispute resolution as an indispensable step). The discovery. Interrogatories, depositions, motions to compel (production), reading through multitudinous pages of interrogatories only to identify a few relevant pages, words or missteps, etc. But always keeping in mind the solution that would provide the best outcome for the client (even if it meant much less potential income for me), considering variables such as costs, time, potential external changes (the law, the regs, politics … you know). The rare arrival of the need to litigate – almost everything was settled post discovery (and a few threats – both illusory and real).
Plans of action are evaluated, legal research is performed, legal memos are written, there is an exchange of information between colleagues, judges, law professors and even family members (the opinions of especially young children are always the best because they always seems to know the fairest outcome of most any dispute). Then there is the drafting of all types of motions, document, correspondence, pre contracts, contracts, powers of attorney, affidavits, mediated or arbitrated agreements, etc.
An Attorney-Translator/Revisionist with his/her level of experience has done all of this and much, much more.
On the other hand, one asks himself/herself:
What preparation does a legal translator have?
As opposed to an Attorney-Translator/Revisionist, a legal translator has only received a certificate or bachelor’s degree in translation with no area of specialty. If the translator wishes to specialize in legal translations, he/she takes a one-semester course on legal terminology.
We must then ask ourselves: Have legal translators the experience to “INTERPRET” the various legal concepts and how such legal concepts and or contracts fit into a certain chain of legal events in a progression or sequence of ideas, concepts and/or agreements?
THE ANSWER IS NO.
Do you want to offer your clients legal translations and revisions performed by a person who is less qualified than an Attorney-Translator/Revisionist? Do you want to give your clients a translation or document prepared by a person who is a non-native speaker of the given language?
If any of your answers are “NO”, you should strongly consider outsourcing your translation and revision work to an Attorney-Translator/Revisionist at my company, MAI LEGAL SOLUTIONS.
Among the benefits that have already been described, we promise to help to avoid the hidden costs of having to review the translations performed by and documents drafted by simple legal translators, having to correct errors, among others, in interpretation, to free up attorney-hours so that they may deal with more productive activities and, finally, to save money for the end client.