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Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing for Legal Translations

5 Reasons to Use It

Multilingual legal matters are especially complicated. Sometimes, lawyers handling multilingual legal matters face challenges, such as:

  • Tight deadlines for discovery
  • Reviewing large sets of documents and discovery in other languages
  • Moving documents in a secure and compliant manner
  • Widely varying legal terms and standards
  • Materials with technical, industry-specific terminology
  • Court requirements for legal translators
  • Steep costs of legal translation services

Machine Translation has become a popular solution to address some of these problems. (Note that some courts or types of legal matters may preclude lawyers from using any Machine Translation.) In some legal matters, though, Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing (MTPE), rather than solely Machine Translation, is better for achieving a successful outcome. Learn what post-editing Machine Translation is and the five main reasons it can be beneficial for legal translations.

What Are Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing Services?

Machine Translation plus post-editing, also known as Machine Translation post-editing, combines AI-enable translation with a human reviewer. Machine Translation plus post-editing can vary significantly every time for two reasons.

Reason #1: Firstly, customers can choose how much time they want a human reviewer to put into the project. More time will result in a more formalized, polished translation, especially when the source material is complex, in a rare language, etc. Customers can choose how much human editing they obtain at different points in the process. They don’t necessarily need to know how much of a human-powered review the material will require initially. Sometimes, a lawyer may first look at the raw machine-translated material. If it needs to be cleaned up and ready for more formal purposes, such as a court submission, the lawyer may request more time from a human editor. They can go back and forth, between lawyer and translation and localization services provider, until the translated documents are fit for purpose.

Reason #2: The second major difference in MTPE solutions is regarding glossary usage. A glossary can often be helpful for legal translation. It can offer the meanings for standardized legal or industry terms. A lawyer can also choose when to provide the glossary in the process. They may give the glossary at the beginning, thus letting the glossary guide the Machine Translation (MT) part of the process. Sometimes, when language is especially complex or industry-specific, it’s more advantageous to supply the human reviewer with the glossary. Lastly, another option is for the lawyer to specify that the glossary will be used throughout the entire process, by both MT software and the human reviewer.

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5 Reasons You Need Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing for Legal Translation

These are the five reasons to choose to use MTPE to support your clients. They can apply across many kinds of law, languages, clients, and budgets.

#1 Machine Translation Plus Post-editing Cuts Costs

MTPE may dramatically reduce costs for a lawyer and their client. Machine Translation is always less expensive than only using a human translator because human translators may command high rates. Reducing their involvement and labor hours will, of course, reduce costs. This is especially applicable for legal translation. A legal translator is often a lawyer themself, and has deep legal expertise or experience. These professionals can, and often do, charge high rates. Choosing MTPE may significantly reduce the hours required by the human translator.

#2 Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing Achieves a More Localized Legal Translation

Sometimes, documents that need translation for a legal matter are full of colloquial language or language in a regional dialect. Perhaps the language must be translated to fit the legal terminology specific to the court where the matter is being addressed. Whatever the reason, MTPE involves a human editor, often with expertise in the required language(s) or legal procedures. While MT can provide very serviceable translations, it’s not equipped to understand colloquial language, niche dialects, or deep legal expertise. Only a human editor, via MTPE, can provide this.

#3 Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing Helps with Large Data Sets

Lawyers today have more substantial amounts of discovery to sift through than ever. Emails, spreadsheets, chats, texts, documents, and more, all add to the mountains of data that lawyers may need to process and/or submit to court. Machine Translation is perfect for high volumes because it’s so much more efficient than human translators. Lawyers may choose how much post editing they need, and which parts of the translated material to ensure are edited. This approach helps significantly curb costs and reduce translation times, which are challenges when working with large data sets.

#4 Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing Allows a Sneak Peek into the Material

When lawyers use a solution that involves only human translation, they need to wait until the translator completes the entire project to see the translated material. With Machine Translation plus post-editing, lawyers can review the raw Machine Translation output while a human translator edits this output. Sometimes, this sneak peek can be helpful, especially when deadlines to file documents or write briefs are tight. Lawyers can begin to work with the materials early in the process, even if they’re not finalized yet. This extra time can be an immense advantage in a court case or other legal matters.

#5 Machine Translation Plus Post-Editing Helps Attain Specific Style or Level of Accuracy:

Simply using Machine Translation doesn’t give the customer much influence over the level of accuracy or the final style of the translated text. With the addition of a human editor, the lawyer may provide reference files. The editor can then use these files to help ensure a more pristine accuracy. For example, reference files can help the reviewer understand when certain legal terminology differs from language to language. The editor can also use reference files to influence the writing style of the final, translated document. They can infuse the copy with the same style, making it feel more formal, academic, infused with local legal terminology, etc.

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Get in touch

Lionbridge’s translation services for legal documents can help you and your clients in multilingual legal matters. Rely on our decades of experience with legal translation and interpretation. We use innovative technology, including generative AI, to tailor language services solutions to meet your unique needs. Get in touch today.

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Samantha Keefe and Abby Camacho, Global Program Director of Legal Services
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