LEGAL TRANSLATION CONFERENCE
Return to ATA Homepage

General Information

Tentative Program

Abstracts

Speaker Bios

Hotel Information

Exhibitors & Sponsors

Job Exchange


REGISTER
TODAY!

Registration Form in Word

Registration Form in HTML

Registration Form in PDF

Jersey City, New Jersey · Hyatt Regency · May 2-4, 2003


Language-Neutral Presentations



Common Law and Equity
30 minutes; Language-English
Thomas L. West III

The presentation will examine the terms "common law," "equity," "jurisprudence," and "doctrine" and their false cognates in foreign languages as a means of understanding the differences between the common-law tradition in the U.S. and the civil-law tradition in Europe and Latin America.


Roundtable Discussion: Principles of Legal Translation
90 minutes; Language-English
Javier F. Becerra, Alejandro M. Garro, and Steve Kahaner

"Words are very rascals," says Shakespeare's Clown in "Twelfth Night" ...The flavor of a sentence is apt to change or disappear in a translation; and just this flavor may change the aspect of the case...
Fritz Moses, International Legal Practice, 4 Fordham L. Rev. 244, 248-51 (1935).

Successful legal translation requires competence in at least three different areas: 1) comparative law, i.e., a basic knowledge of the legal systems of both the source and target languages; 2) familiarity with the specific terminology of the particular legal field(s) dealt with in the source and target text; and 3) the ability to write in the specific legal "style" of the target language. Thus, the legal translator must be part linguist, part legal scholar, and part detective in order to search out and translate legal concepts that are often not known to the legal system of the target text. The legal translator must also have an understanding of the mindset of the lawyer who wrote the source text as well as that of the lawyer who will be reading the target text.

The panelists of this presentation, all of whom are attorneys, will discuss issues relating to legal translation from their individual perspectives including, but not limited to, the following topics:

· Comparative Law and Legal Translation
Relevant aspects of comparative law; Translating from civil law-based legal systems into English; Legal writing "style" in various legal systems (register, repetitive versus distinctive vocabulary, etc.); Typical perils in the translation of legal text of a particular jurisdiction for use in a foreign or international context, including the use and misuse of the term "notary public" in international legal practice.

· Legal Translation Techniques
Literal translation versus conceptual translation: What are the pros and cons of each approach and in what situation might one approach be more appropriate than the other? How to deal with false cognates and concepts in the source language that do not have equivalents or similar concepts in the target language; Techniques for unraveling convoluted structures in the source text (especially that of pleadings) without unduly compromising the meaning or rhetorical flavor of the original; The translation of standard U.S. contract clauses (i.e., representations and warranties, choice-of-law/choice-of-forum clauses) into other languages and their treatment under other legal systems; The use of footnotes or bracketed text to convey additional information in the target text; The "Plain English" movement: Does it have any place in legal translation?

· Sources of Information
Recommended resources for the legal translator.

Although the panelists will draw upon their experiences and provide examples regarding the Spanish-English language pair, the discussion will focus on general principles applicable to most other language pairs as well. A 30-minute question-and-answer period will follow the discussion.



Marketing Your Skills to Patent Law Firms: An Insider's Perspective
90 minutes; Language-English
Brian Fish

This presentation will provide useful information to individuals and agencies that want to attract assignments from law firms. The session will offer:

· Insight into the machinations of a large law firm as related to translation (and perhaps dispel a few myths)
· Tips to translators about effective marketing tactics. Which methods generally fail and which succeed? What are the advantages freelancers have over agencies that they do not often recognize much less emphasize?
· Information about how some freelancers have, over time, built successful, ongoing relationships with a firm.

Time for a question-and-answer period will be allotted.



The Legal Sector from the Language Company's Perspective: A Practical Session
45 minutes; Language-English
Carol Lagler-Kolusheva

In this presentation, the speaker will relate the experience of being a client relationship manager, as well as a translator, to try and expose some of the every-day issues that arise and must be dealt with at the client level. Most translators have talked about and have even worked so hard at "educating the client." This presentation will discuss the overlap of translation and interpreting that occurs when clients ask their translator to also interpret in court, not realizing the two require different expertise. This presentation will compare the different approaches to study in England, the rest of Europe, and the U.S., including sworn translators in the United Kingdom, or rather the lack of them. The speaker will reconcile the different legal systems and explain why translators of German, French, or Italian still need to understand the Swiss Legal System. The audience will learn why it is often necessary to divide documents and the problems that arise from doing so, in terms of quality assurance.



Untangling Legalese: Maximizing Clarity in the Translation of Pleadings into English
135 minutes; Language-English
Joe McClinton

You've drafted your translation as faithfully as you can, and the pleading still reads like gibberish. Where do you go from here? We cannot gloss over real failings in the original, but we can avoid making matters worse.

By long tradition, pleadings are often couched in exceptionally complex language. Nevertheless, the translator does have a variety of options available for reflecting these complexities. After a discussion of a few general issues and principles that apply to translating pleadings from many Western European-based legal systems into English, this hands-on presentation will present practical techniques for unraveling convoluted structures in English translations and making arguments clearer, without unduly compromising the meaning or rhetorical flavor of the original. Participants are encouraged to send short, unpolished English drafts of particularly tangled pleading language from their own experience to the speaker at joe@jmctrans.com for possible use during the presentation. (The roots of problems and their solutions are often more evident from a raw, semi-literal draft than from a polished translation.)

This is a revised and expanded version of the well-received presentation from the ATA Court Interpreting and Translation Seminar held in San Francisco in September 2002.



Translators' Standards of Care and Liability for Legal Translations
90 minutes; Language-English
Thomas B. Mann II

The goal of this presentation is to examine how translators could be held liable for the poor translation of legal documents and to explore what they can do to protect themselves against such liability.

This presentation will be divided into five parts. Part I will present a hypothetical situation involving an inaccurate translation of a legally binding financial document. Part II will provide explanations of general principles of contracts and tort law, which would serve as the basis for any claims brought against the translator for translation inaccuracies. The speaker will outline the rules on identifying the terms of the client-translator contract, on breach of express and implied warranties, and on calculating damages. The speaker will also focus on the translator's duty of care in translating legal text, on the breach of such duty, and on possible legal defenses to a tort claim. Part III will discuss the translator's standard of care in translating legal documents and its relevance to liability. The speaker will explore objective standards (industry) and subjective standards (client expectations) as well as the speaker's extensive experience on defining such standards within the European legal community. Part IV will offer a number of options for translators to protect themselves against liability for poor translations and, in part V, the presentation will come full-circle by applying the points of law discussed to the hypothetical situation introduced in part I. Handouts and audiovisuals will be used throughout the presentation.



The Community Trademark Legal Framework: Harmonizing Translation Practices
90 minutes; Language-English
Luis Pérez González

The territorial limitations of trademarks (and the ensuing hindrances to free trade and circulation resulting from the distinctive trademark regulations of its individual member states) have long posed a problem for the European Union (EU). The first European initiatives to establish a unified trademark legal framework date back to the late 1950s. However, the directive and subsequent regulation aiming to consolidate the harmonization process in this matter were not adopted until the 1990s. The increasingly high profile assumed by trademarks in the globalization era accounts for the creation of new regulatory bodies in recent years. These bodies are, in their turn, responsible for the production and circulation of highly specialized documents aimed at a multilingual readership.

This presentation will begin by providing an overview of the harmonized trademark registration and examination process and its implications for the work of translators. Drawing on the comparison of several English documents and their translation into Spanish, this presentation will present a summary of the main problems that may be encountered in the translation process itself. The fact that the Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), the most important new European agency in this field, imposes a tight style policy on freelance translators despite failing to develop the range of online tools for translators implemented by other EU institutions is of particular significance.

After the discussion of the key terms and phrases, several sample excerpts will be distributed to the participants for a translation group exercise. Participants will also receive a handout containing useful terminology as well as information on relevant web pages and a bibliography.




Problems and Solutions Regarding the Translation of International Sales Law Materials
90 minutes; Language-English
Vikki M. Rogers

In 1980, representatives met at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Diplomatic Conference in Vienna to finalize and unanimously approve the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) that provided for the international sale of goods. Recognizing the unique characteristics of an international commercial transaction, the CISG is intended to provide traders with a legal environment (defining rights and obligations) independent from domestic sales law.

To date, 62 countries subscribe to the CISG. These countries account for two-thirds of all world trade. As such, the CISG is an undeniable presence in international trade. As with any legal instrument that has a cross-border application, the interpretation and translation of the law and relevant legal documents can be tricky. Even though the CISG was intended to create an autonomous environment for the interpretation and application of international sales law, a court, lawyer, or translator may tend to look towards its own domestic laws as a source for appropriate terminology to represent the legal concepts that are trying to be expressed. This approach can have grave implications on a contractual party's rights and obligations. In a larger context, this approach also hinders the uniform application of international sales law.

In an effort to make the translator aware of the potential pitfalls in the translation of international sales law materials and to prevent the infusion of domestic law concepts into a translation, this presentation will focus on the following:

· A description of the scope of international sales law and documents that would be subject to translation (e.g., sales contracts, legal opinions).

· Why is a proper translation so important? The implications of an inaccurate translation (with examples observed through the speaker's legal practice) as well as examples of inconsistencies in the varying language versions of the law itself, with consequent implications.

· Differences between international sales law terminology and domestic sales law terminology in English-language documents. Examples of the differences and the legal implications that could arise when the wrong word is used will be provided followed by a discussion regarding the identification of the "right" word.

In addition, this presentation will include a brief description regarding the speaker's current project-the creation of an international sales law thesaurus. The work is being conducted under the supervision and sponsorship of the Institute of International Commercial Law, Pace University School of Law. The goal of the project is to create a uniform international sales law terminology that could be used as a basis to organize all information on the topic. By creating a uniform, autonomous framework for the organization of this information, courts, lawyers and translators will not have to resort as quickly to domestic law and its terminology to resolve international sales law issues.



Legal Translation in the Globalized Economy: The Case of FTAA
90 minutes; Language-English
Georganne Weller

With the exception of longstanding regional organizations such as the Organization of American States and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean who depend heavily on staff translators and widespread use of local and online freelance translators, few bodies have so desperately needed top quality professionals in the legal field as the Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA). After a series of six ministerial meetings held throughout North America (as a follow-up to the 1994 Miami Summit of the Americas at which the Chiefs of State from 34 democracies agreed to set up a free trade area), language services have become increasingly more important.

The first texts were fairly general in nature when negotiations were taking place in Miami (1999-2001) and only one staff translator and occasional freelancers were required. With the second round in process in Panama (2001-2003), there are now six staff translators and many local and online translators on call, with increasingly difficult technical translations to deal with. In Puebla, Mexico (March 2003-December 2005) there will be a heavy burden on the translating staff and freelancers to handle regular documents and the expected output of two to three meetings to be held in tandem and on a daily basis. The volume is overwhelming-agendas, position papers, updated documents to reflect bracket removing, lawyers' observations to keep the negotiators in line, constantly evolving text of the agreement itself, etc. Desperate calls are going out to seek qualified professionals.

One might ask what trade negotiations have to do with legal translation. In addition to side groups and committees, there are nine standing negotiating groups which have specific mandates from the six ministerial meetings and summits that have taken place to date-market access; investment; services; government procurement; dispute settlement; agriculture; intellectual property rights; subsidies, antidumping, and countervailing duties; and competition policy. None of these groups is at the same stage of progress, the legal trappings have become increasingly cumbersome, and translators work under great pressure to facilitate and not hinder the negotiations.

This hands-on workshop will emphasize the differences between freelance and staff legal translation versus conference translation. Real-life documents that have been declassified will be used to illustrate the highly technical and varied nature of the legal documents one has to translate at important high-level trade negotiations.

French-Language Presentations

German-Language Presentations

Portuguese-Language Presentations

Russian-Language Presentations

Spanish-Language Presentations

(back to top)