When you are dealing with a lawsuit involving people and incidents from different countries, the authorities of the two (and in some cases more than two) countries have to collaborate with each other to resolve the issue. In some countries, languages other than English are used as the language of court, cases in which translators play a vital role in the lawsuit. As you might know, a court exclusively deals with documented proof. This implies that the legal translators, also known as sworn translators, will have to translate every document produced to and by the court to ensure that it is understandable to all parties involved in the lawsuit.
We have talked about how important it is for translators who work on technical documents to be familiar with the nuances of technology. Legal translation is also similar, except that the translators will have to be familiar with legal terms, statutes, constitutional rights, government rules, etc. As you can see, the job calls for people who are highly trained in these aspects. Also, the translation companies cannot afford to take a risk in hiring professionals who provide sub-standard services.
The legal documents are a matter of national importance in cases involving people from multiple countries. In case the documents cause any misunderstanding, it will be considered as obstruction of justice by the court and the relevant party can be penalized or even imprisoned. This is the reason why legal translators or sworn translators have to be certified to ensure that they offer quality services.
To ensure that the legal documents that are translated are accurate, legal experts are hired, who are explained the meaning of the translated documents by another translator. The experts will listen to this feedback and give their opinion on the accuracy of the documents. This is done to ensure that the translated documents do not cause any issues while they are officially used in the court.
While knowledge of the target language is the first criterion for any legal translator, that is only the basic eligibility criterion. The translators should be as knowledgeable as the lawyers. There are examples of people with a dual law and language degree who have taken up the career of a legal translator.
Also, the legal translator should be aware of all the frequently used legal terms in the language that he/she specializes in. This is not something that you can learn in a short span of time. Lawyers are aware of these terms in their respective countries, as they are required to study the law in their native language. So, the legal translators should be both language and legal experts.
There have been cases where translators have been called to come and testify in the court about the legality and the authenticity of the documents. Sometimes, the court will need the services of an expert interpreter if laws of multiple countries have to be considered before handing out a verdict. Since the translator will be considered as an expert, he/she should be ready to testify and vouch for his statement, something that not many people would be willing to do.
The bottom line is that unless you have a very specific skill set, you cannot become a legal translator. That is the reason why high-quality sworn translators are very few in number and hard to find as well. If you find a good legal translator for your needs, make money your secondary consideration as quality is what you should be looking for in these cases.