Legal translation services: why boutique is best
When seeking legal translation services, many clients choose a translation agency simply because they recognize the name. However, bigger doesn’t always mean better.
As with the lawyers they serve, legal translators are highly specialized professionals. In both translation and law, leave the specialized work to the boutique firms.
It goes without saying why, but we’ll say it anyway…
Large generalist translation agencies do not possess specialized knowledge. Their business model relies on casting a wide net of services across many sectors. As a result, their translations are passable in many areas but exemplary in none. When it comes to legal translation, this lack of specialization can be problematic at best.
Boutique translation agencies rely on the opposite business model. They offer specialized services through smaller operations. Clients needing translations in industries requiring specific, professional knowledge should seek these boutique translation firms out.
With this hyper-focused specialization, boutique translation agencies produce excellent results. Their lower overhead and focus on quality over quantity allow them to attract—and keep working with—the most experienced translators in the industry. This is especially advantageous in the realm of legal translations, where even the smallest mistake can cause disastrous results.
For legal translation services, it is best to let a boutique translation firm handle your work. Here’s a few reasons why:
For legal translation services, rely on bilingual attorneys and lawyer linguists. Generalist firms hire generalist translators with no legal background.
In order to be an attorney, an individual must undergo a rigorous legal education. This education includes classes on how to perform legal research, as well as how to properly write legal documents.
Therefore, if an attorney needs special schooling to write in the language of the law, why should a translator be any different? After all, the translator is also penning a legal document.
As a result, the best legal translation companies hire only bilingual attorneys, lawyer linguists, or translators who have received legal education. Generalist translation companies do not. Often, this occurs to disastrous results.
Lower overhead means higher paid translators. This attracts better translators.
The larger the translation firm, the higher the overhead.
Multinational firms have bloated staff. This may include HR departments, office administrators, middle managers, PR teams, sales teams, and other employees. Boutique translation agencies rely on pared down operations with an emphasis on fewer, more competent staff that can do double duty. What’s more, management and all other related services are handled in house.
This translates to lower overhead, with a higher portion of the project fee going directly to the translator. Because they can afford to pay their translators a fair rate, boutique translation agencies often attract the top talent that large firms do not.
This combination of trust and fair rates means that boutique translation agencies have access to the best translators in the business. And they can keep them on their roster for far longer.
Your translator should not be a competent, human professional.
Corporate translation models rely upon following and implementing trends.
These strategies are mainly aimed at reducing costs. To do this, they minimize or eliminate outright the importance of the human element.
Corporate translation agencies may use software that miraculously translates itself, or thousands of invisible “people” translating for free in the cloud in under one hour. Worse, they may even convert translators into pieceworkers engaged in the self-defeating task of MT-post editing.
All of these strategies have one thing in common.
They shift the emphasis away from the importance of experienced, intelligent humans in the translation process. Instead, they place it on software, hardware, and fads in management strategies.
In this model, translators become replaceable small units in huge databases of large units. Tasked with translating files as quickly and cheaply as possible, these faceless, easily replaceable units are chosen based on their ability to meet the bottom line rather than to satisfy the client.
The logical result? Corporate translation firms rely on translators who cannot translate competently. Relying on a different business model, boutique translation agencies can match your project to the right professional every time. Using their industry experience and contacts (as well as rigorous quality control and onboarding metrics), boutique translation agencies will always know the right person for the job.
When you use a boutique translation agency, your project is handed off to a competent professional–not a cog in a wheel.