I recently attended an excellent ATA Webinar on the role of the linguist in legal document review. In my market (Washington, DC), more and more law firms are requiring their document reviewers to have at least a J.D. to get near their foreign language discovery files. If only they knew what they were missing out on by excluding so many professional linguists!
Legal translators are an excellent choice for document review teams. Why?
- Linguists are neutral to the case. This means we won’t skim over anything important-but-damning—our facts reported are just unemotional facts.
- Linguists are educated in both sets of laws. We can help you understand why a société anonyme (French) is similar to, but not quite equal to a limited company (UK English) or an incorporated company (US English).
- Linguists create better glossaries and cheat sheets. Trial lawyers can be sure they are using terms consistently in references to their evidence base, and possibly even use some of the foreign words [correctly] at the negotiation table or trial. Not only are we efficient, we make you look good, too!
- Linguists are trained to pick out small details that make a difference—a sudden switch to exclusive, singular nouns after using inclusive plurals, for instance. And we always get our date formats right!
- Linguists can handle a wider variety of documents. Sometimes your key piece of evidence will come from a standard contract or patent. But just as often, it will be in email form with lots of slang and abbreviations, or handwritten notes squeezed into margins, or tax tables. Professional translators deal with these documents regularly in the normal course of their work. Their analysis won’t suffer from an unexpected twist in writing style or format.
Translators, can you think of any other reasons why lawyers should add you to their discovery team? Lawyers, what has your experience been working with linguists on document reviews?