What once was a rate event has become a common occurrence. Attorneys now call us up several times a week to ask us to answer specific questions about what is or is not disclosed in a foreign publication or to have just specific sections of a document translated.
In days of yore, 97% of the requests we got were for complete translations and the other 3% were for translations of just the claims. Something is changing. I know I have done my part by sending out newsletters and making suggestions when I get an attorney on the phone. But the change is the result of more than advertising alone. A fair number of the people who contact us have never dealt with us before. They just call up saying that they want to find out what is in some documents and that they would rather not order a full translation if they don’t have to.
I’ve been asked by colleagues whether I resent this trend. After all, a full translation can bring in thousands of dollars, while summary reports and partial translations tend to run a couple hundred at most. In the long term, however, these types of orders always lead to more work. Firstly, because the attorney can gain access to foreign texts without racking up large disbursements, they are simply more likely to use foreign material. And when these cost-effective means turn up something of real value to the case, full translations follow. The second reason why smart-translation orders mean good business is that working this way requires trust. You cannot take this sort of request to a harried project manager at a translation factory that outsources texts of every description to students and housewives. These assignments require expertise, and being able to provide that expertise pays off in both customer loyalty and word of mouth referrals.
There are still plenty of situations in which the attorney knows from the start that they will need a full translation or knows that their fastest route to understanding is by perusing the complete document. That said, it is nice to see that those same attorneys are coming to realize that they have options.