Conducting quality legal research is a complex, time consuming and often frustrating task. When your legal research involves foreign language statutes and case law, the task becomes even more challenging. However, as more and more commercial contracts, settlements and litigation involve foreign nations, transnational legal research has become a vital part of any legal practice.
Transnational legal research involves such fields as foreign and comparative law, private and public international law, and supranational law. Regardless of what category your transnational legal research falls into, the best approach is to take exactly the same approach you use with any legal research problem: Preparation, Consult Secondary Sources, Locate Legislation, Locate Case Law, and Check Your Findings for Updates. The only difference is with transnational legal research, your sources will often be in a foreign language, which, of course, is where lays the challenge.
There are several ways to overcome the foreign language hurdle inherent in transnational legal research. For starters, see if an English translation exists. Many key laws of major jurisdictions will already have a foreign language translation. If a foreign language translation does exist, be sure it is an official foreign language translation. If not, note this fact in your research.
If no foreign language translation exists, you have two options: do the foreign language translation yourself, or hire a professional foreign language translator. The first option is tedious and involves a great deal of time with a foreign language dictionary. Further, your foreign language interpretation will lack the credibility of a professional foreign language translation.
Thus, your best bet is to use the professional services of a certified foreign language translator.
For an abundance of transnational legal research resources, visit http://www.law.umich.edu/library/refres/resguides/pdfs/Documents/transnational.pdf.
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