Translation apps, tools and software have become all the rage, with more businesses than ever relying on automation for quick, cheap, and convenient translations. As a result, the market is on track to be worth £831 million by 2025, an 11% growth from 2020.
One industry where this technology is particularly popular is the legal sector. Considering all the legal documents required for international proceedings, machine translation is an understandably appealing prospect for many in the industry. Global Voices is one of many translation companies offering world-leading legal translations, but that doesn’t stop a huge range of companies from opting for an automated alternative. So what kinds of services are legal organisations and their partners receiving from legal translation apps, and how does this software compare to what professional, human translators offer?
Legal translation software and associated risks
Step 1: Upload your documents
Users upload their documents to the legal translation software and, though this is usually a quick and simple process, it is also fraught with danger. Once these documents are in the app’s system, your clients’ data will no longer be confidential. For example, if you were to use Google Translate, Google’s Terms of Service policy gives the company the right to ”host, reproduce, distribute, communicate, and use your content” once you’ve shared it with them. Do you really want to allow this kind of control over the potentially sensitive information you need to be translated?
Another risk comes from the legal translation software itself. Even if you do trust how the company will handle your data, it could still end up in the wrong hands. Many AI translation tools are plagued with security issues that make any input data vulnerable to outside exploitation. This was seen with Translate.com in 2017. The website stored Norwegian oil company Statoil’s data in the cloud, thus making it freely available online. Similar security oversights from other legal translation companies could expose your own documents, and be disastrous for your business, as well as for your clients.
Luckily, these issues can be easily avoided by working with a professional translation agency. We keep our clients’ data secure by following strict security procedures, such as only using your data for very limited purposes and utilising SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption for any document exchanges.
Step 2: Select the language
The next stage in the automated translation process is to choose the language you want your document translated into. The problem here is that, while legal translation tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and provide translations more accurately, they still struggle to grasp the syntax and context of a text. So while the technology can relate words to other words, it certainly can’t understand broader ideas within a document and appropriately express them in another language.
When you consider the complexities of legal translations, it’s clear that automated tools may still fail to convey the true meaning of the original text. Even if the translation is linguistically accurate, it remains likely to be so incomprehensible in legal terms as to be worthless.
In order to translate a legal document successfully, linguistic and technical legal skills are equally required. This ensures that, if there isn’t a word or concept that accurately matches the source text, the translator can use their contextual understanding to identify a suitable replacement. With no legal aptitude, legal translation tools could never offer the same guarantee. Global Voice’s legal linguists are native speakers in the languages they translate, and also have significant experience in the legal sector. This means that they fully understand legal concepts and terminology, and possess the knowledge required for accurate legal translations.
Step 3: Draft for review
Once an automated tool has translated your legal document, you’ll need to review the content to ensure it is accurate. This is because legal translation software automatically translates your content without any quality control checks of its own. Instead of simply hoping your materials have been well translated, you’ll have to hire a linguist to double-check the work of the app. As such, you’re much better off relying on a legally adept professional translator from the start.
By relying on Global Voices, you not only receive the services of a team of expert linguists, but an according guarantee of quality. Each project we undertake follows established business processes in line with ISO specifications, including dedicated project managers handling your materials, rather than simply uploading them to a legal translation tool. We also have a second mother-tongue professional to review your content, and conduct a full liaison post-production, to guarantee your satisfaction with the translated text.
Perceived benefits of automated legal translation
Despite the proliferation of legal translation apps, tools and software, you shouldn’t be tempted to rely on this technology. Instead, you should be questioning why exactly they’re so fast and cheap, and whether this makes them worth using in the long run, especially free translation tools. After all, just one inaccurately translated term in a contract, or detail in a court case could land you in hot water, perhaps even leading to unanticipated extra legal costs and business losses. When it comes to legal translation, it really is better to be safe rather than sorry, and take the human option every time.