… following on from yesterday’s post about AI essentials for lawyers with some thoughts on how that relates to legal translation
1. Generative AI in the Legal Sector: Legal translators have a head start here. They’ve been using neural machine translation (NMT) for several years now.
While it can be helpful in some instances, it may not fully grasp the nuances of legal language or be suitable for all legal documents.
Expert human translators remain indispensable. Without them the risks are high.
2. AI’s long-term impact: Legal translators are no strangers to technological developments. They monitor those developments and integrate tools into their workflow when appropriate. They’ve been doing this for a long time and will continue to do so.
3. Opportunities and risks: Legal translations generated without any human involvement put you at risk of having a document in which legal terms and concepts have been misinterpreted.
This can lead to significant legal repercussions.
Cost reduction may be a legitimate objective but when the price is someone’s freedom, rights, money, etc.
4. Intellectual property and data risks: Legal translators are well aware of the data risks of free MT and AI platforms.
Client confidentiality is a key concern for the profession.
NDAs and codes of professional codes of ethics covering these matters are common.
Sensitive legal documents should not be put through free MT or AI systems
5. Cybersecurity risks: GDPR awareness among legal translators is high.
6. Integrity of output and ethical concerns: Legal translators are familiar with NMT, a form of AI, its uses, and shortcomings.
Omissions, inconsistent renderings of key legal terms, are common in such systems. All these affect integrity of the legal words being translated.
The output suffers from an “illusion of fluidity”. Your clients need accuracy not something that appears accurate.
Can you guarantee that?
7. Reputational risks: Poor translations resulting from over-reliance on AI can damage a law firm’s reputation in the eyes of its clients.
Lawyers should be wary of trusting the machine too much given the complex nature of legal language.
Do you have policies in place to manage these risks?
8. Regulatory and professional responsibilities: Consider your professional duty to act diligently and safeguard your client’s interests.
Is providing a free / fast translation actually serving your client’s bests interests?
Think about how this ties into your own professional code of conduct
9. Risk management strategies: Lawyers are risk managers.
Legal translators are risk managers.
Expert translators exercise judgment and make informed decisions on the appropriateness of certain renderings of translated terms in a legal context, a skill that AI lacks.
They can also spot errors in the source document and point them out saving egg on your face.
10. Considerations for use in legal practice: Work closely with your legal translator.
Let them decide what tool is appropriate for the translation.
It may involve MT / AI.
It may not.
Trust in their expert knowledge.
Words matter in law – even translated words.
If you want to learn more, check out some research into this topic: