Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Can I translate legal documents without yet being a sworn translation?
Thread poster: Leonel Acuna

Leonel Acuna
Chile
Apr 5, 2014

I am currently in my last year of translation studies and I wonder If I can already start to advertise my services as a legal translator even though I haven't been certified yet.

 

Reed James
Chile
Local time: 03:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
You sure can! Apr 5, 2014

Hi Leonel,

You are only required to be a sworn translator if it is legally required a country for certain translations. I know this is the case for Spain, but even then, I'm just asked by the agencies to place an official looking seal on the document with my name and ID number — which apparently suffices. Otherwise, you can translate anything you want for whomever you want. Your only limitation will be your knowledge, skills and rates you want to accept. Otherwise, the sky's the limit. I can translating legal documents for almost 20 years and I'm not a sworn anything (I've been known to swear, but very rarely) @!#$.

Legal translation is very satisfying, so I encourage you to try it.

Saludos de Santiago


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:32
English to German
+ ...
Rates that you charge Apr 5, 2014

Reed D James wrote:

Hi Leonel,

You are only required to be a sworn translator if it is legally required a country for certain translations. I know this is the case for Spain, but even then, I'm just asked by the agencies to place an official looking seal on the document with my name and ID number — which apparently suffices. Otherwise, you can translate anything you want for whomever you want. Your only limitation will be your knowledge, skills and rates you want to accept. Otherwise, the sky's the limit. I can translating legal documents for almost 20 years and I'm not a sworn anything (I've been known to swear, but very rarely) @!#$.

Legal translation is very satisfying, so I encourage you to try it.

Saludos de Santiago


Just to point Leonel in the right direction,
a professional translator will specify his rates and not simply accept a rate because the agency isn't willing to pay more.

I know you mean well Reed, but too many newcomers to the profession are turned into translation monkeys (IMO).

B


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:32
English to Polish
+ ...
... Apr 5, 2014

Leonel Acuna wrote:

I am currently in my last year of translation studies and I wonder If I can already start to advertise my services as a legal translator even though I haven't been certified yet.


Not all legal translations need to be certified, and sometimes agencies you work for have certified (sworn) translators to certify your work. I was a legal translator for 4 years before getting certified, took another half to get started for real.


 

Teresa Freixinho  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:32
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Apr 6, 2014

I also work with legal translations and I am not a sworn translator. There is no problem about that in my Country. Here in Brazil sworn translations are required just for some sort of documents (birth/marriage/death certificates, academic/school reports, driver licenses, real estate purchase and etc.) of people who are going to live abroad and need to prove something to local authorities. Other general legal documents, such as agreements, contracts, legal petitions and etc should not necessarily be translated by sworn translators.

And by the way, the number of sworn translators are very small to the real demand in Brazil, because examinations are held with a time spam of years or even decades. Therefore, the current sworn translators are seen with a bit more respect by people in general over here.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:32
Russian to English
+ ...
In which country? Apr 6, 2014

Leonel Acuna wrote:

I am currently in my last year of translation studies and I wonder If I can already start to advertise my services as a legal translator even though I haven't been certified yet.


In the countries which have sworn translators-- you should not. (like Canada, Poland and many other countries). You could in the US.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 23:32
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not recommended Apr 6, 2014

I wouldn't recommend it until you have a couple of years experience in general translation. If you have had specialized training in legal translation during your program, you can give it a try if the translation is for private or informal use but a sworn translator is required, for example, for court documents, immigration, etc.

 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 01:32
Romanian to English
+ ...
Tina, where did you get this from? Apr 6, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:

I wouldn't recommend it until you have a couple of years experience in general translation. If you have had specialized training in legal translation during your program, you can give it a try if the translation is for private or informal use but a sworn translator is required, for example, for court documents, immigration, etc.



For seven years I have been translating official documents (letters rogatory) for the

DOJ and DHS/ICE/USSS/FBI, and I am not a sworn translator !

Lee


 

TranslateThis  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not recommended 2 Apr 6, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:

I wouldn't recommend it until you have a couple of years experience in general translation. If you have had specialized training in legal translation during your program, you can give it a try if the translation is for private or informal use but a sworn translator is required, for example, for court documents, immigration, etc.



Your profile is empty and I can only see that you are a student, so I will assume you have no translation experience and no legal background. If that’s the case, I don’t think you should attempt this unless you work with an experienced proofreader or a mentor. Translating legal documents isn’t as easy as it may seem. The simplest documents may be very important, so even the tiniest error may lead to serious problems.

I recently had to help someone with several simple documents that were already apostilled, translated and notarized. The translator did not do a good job and when the client submitted these documents with his residency visa application, they were rejected. What does this mean to this client? Additional translation expenses and a delay in getting his residency visa. Unfortunately the delay also means that the household items he has already shipped to his new country will no longer be duty free. He will probably end up paying thousands of dollars just because his birth and divorce certificates have not been translated properly. The translation wasn’t very good, but the official reason for the rejection was an incorrectly spelled name.

Whatever you decide to do, do not deliver substandard work. Make sure all names are spelled correctly and use proper language (research all key terms). There is no room for omissions, mistranslations or typos. Triple check everything and, if possible, have an experienced translator proofread your work (I can’t recommend this enough; you will learn a lot and you will sleep much better at night).


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:32
Russian to English
+ ...
There are no certified translators in the US--only interpreters Apr 6, 2014

lee roth wrote:

Tina Vonhof wrote:

I wouldn't recommend it until you have a couple of years experience in general translation. If you have had specialized training in legal translation during your program, you can give it a try if the translation is for private or informal use but a sworn translator is required, for example, for court documents, immigration, etc.



For seven years I have been translating official documents (letters rogatory) for the

DOJ and DHS/ICE/USSS/FBI, and I am not a sworn translator !

Lee


There are many countries which have certfied translators and require that all legal documents, or most, be translated by certified translators only.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:32
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Get some training Apr 7, 2014

You do need to know what you are doing. You write that you 'haven't been certified yet', as if you have had some training and expect to be certified.
Ask your teaching staff about your specific situation to be sure.

Even a simple looking birth certificate may cause trouble, as I found when asked to proofread one!

It also depends on the countries concerned, as others have pointed out. I cannot become a State Authorized Translator, as they are called in Denmark, because along with a great many others, I have not taken precisely the required MA.
I have in fact taken a very similar training, and I translate a certain amount of law.

There is no system of 'sworn translators' as such in the UK either. As a Member of the CIoL I can write a declaration, but I have to rely on colleagues or agencies if my work has to be stamped or certified beyond that.

However, there are certainly traps and false friends in legal translation, partly because the legal system in one country is never identical with the legal system of another.

Employment contracts must relate to the law of the country where the contract applies, and things like nuptial agreements and dealing with property on divorce or death of one of the spouses can be tricky, because the terminology has to reflect the different practices in law.
Community property, for instance, is a term I get asked about now and then... ("We're not a community, we're a couple!" as one couple explained...) I have to refer to my learned friends if anyone wants a really detailed explanation beyond 'That is the English expression used to cover certain situations in Danish law.'
Inheritance is dealt with very differently in English and Danish law too.

You have to know enough about both legal systems, not necessarily to practise as a lawyer, but to be quite sure you understand the differences, or are aware of the fact when you need to consult someone who does. (Or know where and how to look it up.)

And so on. Of course one often adds a disclaimer to the effect that if there are discrepancies, then the original text in the source language takes priority. In Danish contracts there is typically a clause about settling disputes according to Danish law etc.
However, these are only safety nets, and ideally it should never be necessary to make use of them.

Being a sworn translator provides you with a certificate of some kind, but what is really necessary is the underlying knowledge and/or support of expert colleagues.

Best of luck!

[Edited at 2014-04-07 16:04 GMT]


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 23:32
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
@Lee: not everywhere Apr 8, 2014

lee roth wrote:

For seven years I have been translating official documents (letters rogatory) for the

DOJ and DHS/ICE/USSS/FBI, and I am not a sworn translator !

Lee



Lee, not in Canada and not in many European countries. In any case, I wouldn't recommend it without some experience.


 

Max Ahumada  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 03:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Legal documents are one thing Apr 8, 2014

...and in such a popular language pair like English-Spanish there's indeed going to be some limitations along the way. Texts that pertain to the public sphere and that may be subject to lawsuits need to have that sworn translator official seal on it. Otherwise, just think about a situation where there's a legal conflict, the opposing party's attorney may waste no time grasping at the opportunity to point at a translation of dubious autorship.

However, as my heading goes, and since maybe this is sheds some light on your question, there are legal documents, and there are legal texts. The latter may just need a certified seal on it as well, but it's here where we enter into the field of texts ABOUT legal matters. It goes without saying, they don't need to be rendered by a sworn translator.

By the way, you can start to advertise your services if you feel it's about time. There's nothing to lose, and your first jobs may take some time to start coming your way if your degree is not that far off everything could fall into place.

[Edited at 2014-04-08 04:27 GMT]


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:32
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I agree, however Apr 8, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:

I wouldn't recommend it until you have a couple of years experience in general translation. If you have had specialized training in legal translation during your program, you can give it a try if the translation is for private or informal use but a sworn translator is required, for example, for court documents, immigration, etc.



The documents used in courts are mostly general in nature. They are mostly presentations of facts.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:32
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I don't understand why people think legal translation is a specialized area of translation Apr 8, 2014

I translated many documents for lawyers, police and correction departments, law-making bodies, and I also translated a lot of commercial agreements. I rarely come across any legal term that is beyond common sense, except in the commercial agreements. Those couple of terms that have particular meanings in legal sense in the commercial agreements all have established translations, which can easily be copied from the websites.

In my view, unless you are translating law school text books, legal translations are mostly general as regards to their topic areas. To be a so-called legal translator, you don't need to go to law school. Any translator who is competent in translating general texts can be a good legal translator.

Don't scare yourself by how this sector is being called. It is one of the easiest fields, much easier than marketing translation, or even easier than general press releases.

[Edited at 2014-04-08 07:04 GMT]


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Can I translate legal documents without yet being a sworn translation?

Advanced search







CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
SDL MultiTerm 2019
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2019 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2019 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search