Jonathan Goldberg, who is a retired lawyer and a professional translator, interviews Riccardo Massari, an Italian lawyer specializing in commercial, IP and IT law and in legal translation, who, together with a German lawyer, recently founded a company for legal translation (www.lawlinguists.com ).
Riccardo Massari lives in Bologna, where he obtained a law degree. Holding a Cambridge International Legal English Certificate (level C1) and a diplôme approfondi de langue française from the Alliance Française, he combines his legal qualifications with his skills as an Italian-French-English translator.
Riccardo’s impressive list of academic and professional achievements appears in the attached Curriculum Vitae.
Riccardo’s personal interests and hobbies are contemporary art, Italian literature and Argentinean tango.
He can be reached at email@example.com
Jonathan: Let’s talk about your personal and educational background.
Riccardo: I grew up in Bologna, Italy, and obtained my law degree there in 1998. In 2001 I was licensed to practice law as an attorney. While practicing as an attorney, I attended masters and other courses, both in law and in legal foreign languages. My training and work as an attorney have covered the fields of business, IP, IT and civil law and litigation. Now I am an IP and IT law and business law attorney working in four languages (English, Spanish, French and Italian). My main practice is focused on copyrights, trademarks, international business contract negotiation, drafting and review.
Jonathan: How did you become interested in legal translation?
Riccardo: The fields of law in which I specialized, namely commerce, IT and IP law, often involve people from other countries. This requires dealing in a language different from one’s own. For this reason I became interested in legal translation so as to offer not just my legal experience but my comprehension of legal documents in various languages.
Jonathan: Before founding www.lawlinguists.com, did you work specifically in legal translation?
I discovered the lack of an effective tool to help in translating legal documents: many legal glossaries are inaccurate or unhelpful. This led me to write a multilingual legal glossary. I started from the Italian version of the terms and translated them into English, French and Spanish.
Jonathan: What exactly is the activity that your firm, Law Linguists, offers?
Riccardo: Nowadays, with globalization and the increase in international exchanges, it’s becoming more and more important to have documents of all kinds (particularly legal documents) translated into many languages. Our new company offers a specialized translation service for legal documents. In order to provide the best service possible, we decided to confine our activity exclusively to the translation of legal documents, since the staff is made up of lawyers who possess foreign legal language skills. Our purpose is to offer the best legal translations, by focusing on the tiniest details and nuances of each source document’s meaning.
Jonathan: What is so special about this company? Can’t anyone who speaks more than one language translate any kind of document?
Riccardo: It is not true that any polyglot can translate any kind of document. With the right tools (like the glossary I wrote), it may be possible to do an acceptable job. But we don’t settle for just an acceptable job: we want to offer the best possible service. Translating legal documents is more difficult than many other translations. Therefore, in order to get it right, it is imperative that the job be performed by someone who is both an expert in law and in foreign legal language.
Jonathan: What are the aspects and the elements to which you should pay particular attention when you translate a legal document?
Riccardo: The greatest difficulty in translating a legal document is the fact that laws differ from one country to the next. So, the first thing to be ascertained is if the concept you need to translate exists in the other language: sometimes a legal device is present in one legal system but does not exist in another. If the corresponding device doesn’t exist, the next step is to search for a similar one. If neither exists (which is rare) the problem may be solved by using a consolidated translation present in legal usage. Once you find the possible corresponding term, another test is necessary: sometimes in one language a term has more than one meaning, while in another language there are more terms to cover those different meanings; therefore the translator should check all the terms that translate the source term and find the one that conveys the exact meaning required.
Jonathan: What are the qualifications you expect of anyone joining your team of legal translators?
Riccardo: My partner and I established a network of lawyers from all over the world to collaborate with us, in order to offer the best possible service. The qualifications we required of them, and which we would require of anyone who would like to join us, are for candidates to be members of their national bar societies, with at least 3 years of experience; to know at least one foreign language; and to have worked within the field of international law. With these qualifications, anyone can assist us to accomplish our goal in the best possible way.
Jonathan: Do you think the company will succeed? Why?
Riccardo: Absolutely. As I stated previously, legal translation is not something anyone can do: consequently, many clients are willing to pay more money to have a translation done professionally, rather than save a few Euros and, when they discover that a second-rate job has been done, to spend a lot more money to set it right.