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Mitigating Risks in Legal Translations: The Role of Subject Matter Experts

Mitigating Risks in Legal Translations

Inaccurate translations not only lead to misunderstandings but also have serious consequences. Mistakes in translations can affect legal cases, cause financial loss, or even result in legal liability. That’s why it’s essential to have subject matter experts who can navigate the complexities of legal translations.

Let’s explore how legal Subject Matter Expert translators can be instrumental in mitigating risks and ensuring accurate translations. With their help, legal translations can be done with confidence, and the consequences of inaccuracies can be avoided.

The Importance of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

A Subject Matter Expert (SME) is an individual with specialized knowledge and expertise in a particular field or subject area. They possess a deep understanding of the terminology, concepts, and practices related to their area of expertise. SMEs are typically used in fields like science, engineering, medicine, law, finance, and technology, where specific technical knowledge is required.

Compared to other translators, SMEs have a deep understanding of the subject matter they are translating. They are skilled in the language pair they are translating and possess an in-depth knowledge of the terminology, concepts, and nuances specific to the field they are working in. This allows them to accurately and effectively translate complex technical documents.

For legal translations, a legal Subject Matter Expert translator must possess specific qualifications and expertise. They should have a comprehensive understanding of the legal system in both the source and target languages. They must also have insight into the knowledge of the legal terminology and concepts unique to the particular field of law being translated. Additionally, subject matter experts in legal translations have a comprehensive insight into the legal systems and regulations of the countries involved in the translation.

The importance of SMEs in mitigating risks in legal translations cannot be overstated. Inaccurate translations can have serious consequences, particularly in legal contexts where even minor errors can result in significant financial or legal repercussions. Using subject matter experts, legal translations can be performed with a high degree of accuracy, reducing the risk of costly errors.

SMEs can also provide insights and guidance on cultural nuances and language-specific issues that can impact the translation. They can also offer context and explain concepts that may be unfamiliar to those without specific expertise in the field.

The Risks of Inaccurate Legal Translations

Accurate legal translation is critical for a variety of reasons. Here are three of the biggest risks that come with incorrect translations:

  • Legal disputes, especially those across borders, can be extremely costly and time-consuming. Poorly translated documents can lead to costly misinterpretations and lengthy court battles for companies or individuals involved in international transactions.
  • Companies may also face fines from regulatory bodies if their translated documents do not meet standards. This can significantly impact their bottom line and damage their reputation among customers.
  • Reputational damage is another major risk of inaccurate translations, especially in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare or finance. Customers may lose trust in a company that cannot accurately represent its legal contracts in different languages, leading to financial losses and long-term damage to its reputation.

The Journal of Specialized Translation highlights a case where knee replacement surgeries were performed incorrectly in Germany, which caused harm to 47 patients. The reason for this was a translation error on the package of the knee prosthesis.

The label on the package stated that the prosthesis was “non-modular cemented,” but it was translated incorrectly as “non-cemented” or “without cement.” This mistake was not caught for over a year, and many patients suffered as a result. This case shows how important it is to have good translation quality control in medical settings.

The Role of Subject Matter Experts in Mitigating Risks

Here are three ways that SMEs help in mitigating risks:

Accuracy and Consistency

SMEs are key when it comes to ensuring accuracy, consistency, and relevancy across projects. These experts have an in-depth understanding of the subject area and associated language. They can review project materials for accuracy to ensure that all facts and figures are correct. They may also review the document for any inconsistencies in language or terminology.

Cultural and Linguistic Insights

With a deep understanding of the language nuances and customs within the target market, SMEs can convey complex messages with clarity and precision. This ensures that potential misunderstandings are avoided, which is particularly important when navigating unfamiliar cultural terrain.

Collaboration with Legal Professionals

SMEs collaborate with legal professionals to review contracts and other legal documents. In this way, they ensure the accuracy, clarity, and compliance of these documents with applicable laws. This collaborative approach can significantly reduce the risk of legal action that might arise due to misinterpretations or omissions in agreements.

How to Find and Work with Subject Matter Experts

When looking for SMEs, it is important to consider qualifications, experience, and industry expertise. You can search for services with relevant certifications or degrees and work with experts with extensive knowledge of legal terminology in both languages. You must also review the past projects they have worked on to ensure they are familiar with the necessary writing styles and standards.

Once an SME has been chosen, you must work effectively with them to ensure the project succeeds. Communication is key; therefore, choosing a service that pairs you with a dedicated project manager who can track all progress and any changes along the way is ideal. The project manager should be in constant contact with the SME so that questions can be quickly addressed and any issues are dealt with promptly.

Finally, a collaboration between the translator and the project manager is necessary to ensure the accuracy and quality of translations. LatinoBridge offers a panel of professional translators, project managers, desktop publishing experts, and the Q/A division to ensure that all legal translations are accurate and of the highest quality.

Wrapping Up

Legal Subject Matter Expert translator can review legal translating projects and ensure accuracy, consistency, and legal soundness.

LatinoBridge hosts a panel of experienced linguists and SMEs for legal translations in Spanish, Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, German, and other languages, such as Aymara and Quechua.

Our Subject Matter Experts are highly skilled, knowledgeable professionals that guarantee accuracy in every translation project we work on. So don’t take any chances to protect yourself legally – work with us today!


1.   What is a Subject Matter Expert in legal translations?

A subject matter expert (or SME) in legal translations has advanced knowledge and experience in the legal field. These experts are highly skilled in both the source language and the target language, which allows them to accurately translate complex documents while accounting for cultural nuances or specialized terminology.

2.   What kind of expertise do Subject Matter Experts need for legal translations?

When considering a subject matter expert for legal translations, it is important to look for someone who has a deep understanding of the law and legal language in both the source language and the target language. It is also important to ensure that they have up-to-date knowledge of any changes in legal regulations or terminology, as this could significantly impact the accuracy of the translation. Additionally, SMEs should be familiar with common formatting conventions and have experience using translation software.

3.   How do you find a Subject Matter Expert for legal translations from Spanish to English?

There are several ways to find SMEs for legal translations from Spanish to English. You can start by searching online for professional translators with specialized knowledge in the legal field. LatinoBridge is a great option, as we provide translators fluent in English and all dialects of Spanish. Our legal Subject Matter Expert translators are also certified, ensuring complete accuracy in translation.

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