Legal Language Translation Services and International Legal Malpractice

We’ve blogged about multilingual professional translations of keywords during e-Discovery and the attorneys’ professional responsibility in responsibility in responding to a multilingual discovery demand. We also blogged about certified document translations and the risk of using online legal forms in foreign jurisdictions. Over the past 30 years, according to the ABA, the largest category of malpractice claims went from being in connection to missed deadlines to being in relation to a ‘failure to know or apply the law’. With more and more attorneys finding themselves dealing with foreign laws, this trend is, unfortunately, only likely to continue. As the ABA concludes, ‘as the volume of law to know expands (for example, by conducting business abroad), one’s ability to ascertain and properly apply it decreases’.

For example, one of the main issues relating to a failure to know or apply the law relates to language. Without a foreign language translation, many attorneys are simply unable to properly render legal services to their clients. In a traditional domestic setting, there was a natural line of defense built in with the senior partners overlooking the work of the more inexperienced junior attorneys. However, in international settings, senior attorneys are often dependent on the judgment of inexperienced local attorneys.

Attorneys who have offices abroad must be vigilant in the area of quality control, otherwise they could easily find themselves being held liable for malpractice under the theory of failure to supervise.

Up Next: Legal Document Translation & Interpretation Services and International Law in the Private Sector