Challenges With Legal Translation During COVID-19 Pandemic

translation during covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented business environment in modern times. With law firms and corporations implementing work-from-home policies, traditional legal processes involving on-site language services have ground to a halt.

With companies needing to develop new work policies amid government closures and delays, legal translation services are needed now more than ever. Cross-border dealings with satellite offices, vendors, and other companies need new ways to translate and distribute legal documents. Delays in legal proceedings and court closures have resulted in backlogs in virtually every legal area. In the field of immigration, the planned furlough of two-thirds of the USCIS’s workforce is expected to put significant stress on the immigration law industry (AILA, August 2020).

The solution to these delays is virtual, remote, and distributed certified translation services.


Benefits of Using a Remote Virtual Translation Team

Virtual translation services have many benefits. They help streamline legal proceedings and cross-border M&A deals, while providing an array of services for a variety of clients.

The benefits of using a virtual translation service during a global crisis become apparent given the fact that legal translation services have always been done remotely. Virtual translation services often use a distribution model to ensure access to available certified translators when you need them.


Reduce Legal Document Translation Delays with Distributed Virtual Teams

Services like ours provide a virtual and distributed model that provides on-demand translation services. Distributed translation teams often have lawyers and certified translators employed across different time zones and borders to shorten turnaround times, helping to alleviate delays caused by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.


Keep Your Legal Proceedings Moving Along During Times of Crisis

Legal document translation is naturally done remotely so it fits with the current environment of delays and closures. Translators and linguists are perfectly suited for getting document work done while other services and proceedings get stalled. Even if your case has slowed down due to closures, you can take the time and opportunity to fully prepare your documents for when proceedings resume normally.


Virtual Data Rooms Help Decrease Translation Times

Virtual data rooms (VDR), are secure password-protected websites that are used to store confidential and sensitive documents. Their purpose is to allow parties to handle legal documents, financial statements, and any sensitive information meant to be accessible to only a few key individuals who may live in different countries or time zones.

VDRs or secure cloud-based file hosting services such as Dropbox are perfect environments for ensuring the smooth translation of legal documents. When you hire a virtual translation service, make sure they have access to your VDR. Once the translation is complete, they can upload the translated documents to the VDR.


Our 6 Step Process for Virtual Translation During COVID-19

We have a stringent, yet effective process to help our clients during the COVID-19 crisis. Through our 6-step process for remote translation, we take the needs of every client seriously to provide the most trusted translation service to legal teams.


1. Access Your Documents

Our first step is to obtain access to your documents. If you use a VDR or cloud-based storage like Dropbox, you provide us with access to the files via a link or login information. Once we have access to your documents, we move to the next step.


2. Provide a Custom Quote and Master Services Agreement

Once we assess your documents, we determine the scope of work and provide a quote (if there is no Master Services Agreement and Statement of Work already on file). While discussing our quote with you, we help you determine if there are ways to reduce translation costs. We identify any duplicate text or similar pre-existing translations of a certain document, allowing you to save on your total translation cost. We believe in full transparency with our clients.


3. Create a Master Glossary

We develop a master glossary of terms for the documents being translated. Once created, we send it to you for your approval. This glossary serves as our master list to help with translation, and all translators who may handle the case are required to use it for the life of the case. These standards ensure consistency and accuracy, no matter who works on your case. Once approved, we continually update the glossary for the lifetime of your case. However, for one-off projects, we don’t typically use master glossaries.


4. Translation With Desktop Publishing

Once approved to commence the translation, our primary translator begins work on your documents. In many cases, we include desktop publishing (formatting) for your documents, in conformity with the source files you provide us. Often the principal translator is responsible for formatting, but we have dedicated DTP professionals to help with more complex tasks.


5. Editing and Finalizing the Draft

Once the primary translation step is complete, we begin the editing and revision process. At this point we finalize formatting of the document per the source file. To provide a faster turnaround with larger documents, we use a special process called “harmonization.” Document harmonization ensures consistency across large files or file sets requiring the input of multiple translators. For example, a 60-page legal document might have three translators working on 20 pages each, and an independent editor would then run through the whole document to make sure the text is consistent and “harmonized” throughout.


6. Certification and Delivery

Once all edits and formatting are completed, your project manager officially certifies the translated documents as complete and accurate. Once certified, we deliver the finished documents to you.


Final Remarks

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive slowdown in many corporate, legal, and business processes this year. As your company or firm adjusts to remote and virtual work, it is important to make sure your legal teams have the resources they need to continue their legal processes without missing deadlines.

Any company with international operations impacted by the pandemic may also consider investing in virtual translation services.

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