Legal Clinic

By Danielle Compean
Corporate INTL

We deal with international matters that often include multilingual documents and people who speak other languages. What is the best way to deal with matters in other languages, and is there an easy way to manage all of the different service areas and vendors we’d need to address and retain for such an undertaking?

As international companies expand into new markets and more cross-border legal proceedings arise, legal professionals worldwide are increasingly faced with the challenges of juggling multiple languages in their international legal matters. Most clients we speak with who have language requirements are wary of the extra time and costs that multilingual services carry. While it is certainly the case that working exclusively in a single language is simpler, it’s also true that a strong, consultative partner can alleviate most, if not all of the pain of managing multi-language legal matters.

While the clients who approach us generally have varying levels of experience in international matters, we offer each of them the opportunity to work with true experts in the field. Our teams have extensive experience handling a wide variety of international legal matters and work as consultants to advise on the best solution for each firm, including how to achieve greater cost savings and decreased timelines. On a less empirical level, we focus on making clients feel more comfortable that their multilingual matters will be handled in a controlled and dependable fashion—just as they would be handled in the client’s native language.

For multinational firms and firms that have frequent multilingual cases (whether international or in-country), streamlining the outsourcing process can generate efficiencies beyond the multilingual component alone. Seamless solutions can be incorporated by working with a provider that can meet all of your needs across the entire case life cycle—from conflict to judgement. We advise clients to partner with providers who offer end-to-end solutions, such as temporary attorney staffing for on-site document ID; multilingual coding and ESI processing; web-based hosting and review for trial documentation; bilingual court reporters for hearings and trial; and online hosting of trial transcript, among others.

By dealing with a single partner that can take you through multiple steps, the project management burden of coordinating multiple vendors (particularly when several languages or time zones are involved) is significantly reduced. In the legal field, perhaps more so than in any other industry, time is money—and we’re in the business of saving you as much of both as possible.

By design, our approach is set up to save you as much time and money on the front end through workflow management and technologies such as translation memory and collaborative online hosting applications. And, on the back end, our system provides savings simply by making sure all workflows and processes are executed correctly the first time.

Every support vendor has its own approach and methodology for addressing multilingual requirements and the inherent quality risks therein. Our approach is centred around verifiable quality standards and rigorous resource screening. The two most recognised quality certifications are ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038:2006, and we’re accredited to both. In addition, we employ linguists who have passed stringent subject-specific exams in order to quality for TransPerfect’s Linguist Certification programme. Each of our 4,000+ linguists is a native speaker of their
target language, has over five years’ experience, has achieved professional certifications and degrees within their field, is scored on a project-by-project basis and is always selected based on subject-area expertise. We’ve found that for high-stakes legal matters, these stringent quality standards are an absolute requirement.

Ultimately, experience is what really speaks the loudest. For example, our London team recently assisted with a long-running, multi-jurisdictional dispute listed as one of the highest value arbitrations in 2009. Multiple leading international law firms involved in the case chose TLS as a partner in order to streamline language requirements. Over a period of nine months, TLS translated well over half a million words for trial bundles and other supporting documentation. We also hosted documents via an online portal which allowed users spread across different offices and countries to keep track of requests, versions, timelines and costs. When it came time for trial, a TLS interpreter played a key role in communicating specialised financial terminology for the court and non-English speakers. We were able to offer assistance in multiple service areas on this matter, which cut down time and work needed to manage language requirements, allowing the lawyers to focus on their primary tasks.

Of course, we can’t always assume a “perfect-world” scenario in which planning, scheduling, and resource ramp-up are completed on standard schedules. As we all know, the demands of the legal world more often than not include accelerated timelines and sudden changes in deadlines or scope. I’m happy to say that we’ve worked in the industry long enough to expect these kinds of aggressive schedules, and our ability to deliver on multilingual requirements is never compromised, no matter how unreasonable the timeline.

To conclude, the best way to manage your multilingual requirements is to work with one provider or a handful of trusted multilingual partners who can support you during all phases of the case life cycle. Centralising your legal support spend in this way will help you achieve the most value for your money, lessen the project management burden by reducing the number of outsourced vendors, and ensure the highest-quality results for your international legal matters.

Founded in 1992, TransPerfect is the largest privately held language services venture in the world. As a family of companies providing global business solutions to organisations worldwide, TransPerfect is headquartered in New York, with regional offices in more than 50 cities on four continents.