How to Choose an LSP for Legal Translation

4 requirements when assessing providers 

By: Kevin Kraus with Sophia Eakins

Legal professionals cannot overstate the importance of language in their profession. Lawyers draw on their powers of persuasion to advocate on behalf of their clients. Their communications spell the difference between legal victories and devastating defeats. Then, when legal matters span multiple languages, communication becomes difficult—and seeking outside legal translation services becomes essential.

More and more, lawyers operating within a wide variety of legal niches rely on language service providers (LSPs) for thorough and accurate translations. Certified translations can be critical for a variety of legal documents, including pleadings, contracts, deeds, and briefs as well as for evidence secured during discovery.

Given the vital role language plays in modern courtrooms, attorneys require nothing short of exceptional translations. Thorough vetting is necessary to ensure that LSPs will provide an accurate end product in every situation. Consider these four elements when choosing the right LSP for your legal translations:

1.   Deep Legal Industry Translation Experience

In the legal world, a single word or phrase out of place can affect the entire outcome of a case. Each word needs to be thoughtfully and accurately translated. However, understanding legal terminology in one language is tricky enough as is. Introduce multiple languages, and it’s even trickier. For instance, everyday words or phrases can take on a whole new meaning when viewed through a legal lens. Legal translators should understand the legal terminology used across nations, as well as regional differences that can influence the final meaning of the translated text.

Ultimately, clients should feel confident that they will not need to amend or revise translated documents prior to using them in courtroom or administrative proceedings.

2.   Exceptional Selectivity in Accepted Translators

Governmental standards for what is considered a viable translation can differ vastly from country to country. For example, in the US Rule 34(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states only that attorneys prese­­nt requested documents translated into a “usable form.”  However, it does not give guidelines for creating certified translations. Each LSP then sets their own standards for what they deem to be “usable” certified translations. Lionbridge attacks this problem by requiring each certified translation to undergo multiple rounds of quality assurance. On top of that, we instill a rigorous selection process for each legal translator. We need to be sure they have the legal knowledge and capabilities to produce work that will meet our high standards. That way our clients, no matter where they are in the world, are confident that the translations have been exhaustively checked and re-checked for accuracy.

Attorneys bear a lot of responsibility to present a compelling case with accurate evidence and documents. LSPs help reduce those responsibilities. That said, not just any provider can offer the accurate legal document translation services that today's attorneys require.  It’s essential to do diligence when searching for a trusted LSP.

3.   Prompt Translation Services Anytime, Anywhere

In high-stakes cases, every second counts. Legal representatives must abide by strict deadlines. Failure to do so can prove catastrophic for clients.

The sheer scope of evidence required in complicated cases demands timeliness. However, with efficient translation services, there is no need to fear missing filing deadlines on key exhibits. The sooner the LSP translates, the sooner the attorney has access to the translations they need to support their cases. You can overcome the challenges of multilingual litigation by partnering with a language service provider that understands the urgency of your work.

Ideally, LSPs can quickly receive and accept inquiries regardless of when they are submitted. Round-the-clock support allows legal professionals to seek assistance any time of day, regardless of location. This global scale is also important for cases that are geographically restricted for legal reasons or client discretion. LSPs with offices around the world can easily account for clients that need documents translated in a particular country.

4.   World-Class Security Infrastructure and Processes

In an increasingly complex global security landscape, privacy and security are of greater concern than ever before—especially in the realm of legal translation. Attorneys’ and law firms’ sensitivity to data security and confidentiality is especially acute. The data they are entrusted to protect is the property of their clients who could be sharing the most sensitive and proprietary material they own. Case-specific security needs call for strict protocol regarding communication and file handling. GDPR compliance is paramount, as are rigorous data hygiene and data security practices. A quality LSP has the tools and infrastructure to ensure the security and confidentiality of the underlying data.

LSPs should recognize the unique security concerns today's legal professionals face, and tailor their service accordingly to ensure data remains safe and secure through every step of the translation process.


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Multilingual legal content is complicated. Legal content management shouldn’t be.

Contact a Lionbridge team-member for around-the-clock assistance.

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Sophia Eakins
Sophia Eakins