How to Save Thousands of Dollars from Rush Translation on Legal Contracts
Sophie Ao, Author
12 October 2018
We recently completed a rush translation on legal contracts for a real estate company.
There were 78 legal documents, which included corporate charter, land sale contract, land lease contract, property management contract, construction permits, construction completion certificates, and other legal contracts.
We had a lot of work to do and time was ticking.
After our analysis, we found out there were totally 437,142 English words, 40,997 of them are repetitions; 2 additional documents are in Portuguese: 2,916 Portuguese words, 117 are repetitions.
For the average speed of turn-around days, it would take 66 days for 2 translators to complete it.
However, the client told us they definitely needed it back in 6 days for document submission!
Otherwise, they would not need it.
The Test Translation
Despite the limited time we had, we had to make sure that our translation quality would match client’s expectation. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time, money and efforts.
So, we provided 5 copies of test translations (B level) quickly for the client to review and we were told that all 5 were good. Our quality (B level, economic standard) matched the client’s expectation, so we responded and accepted the project.
Teaming Up with Translators
We assembled a team of 16 professional legal translators and backup resources who have extensive experience in both legal and construction-related topics.
For such a massive project with complex documents, an experienced legal translator is expected to produce 4,000 words or more every day, 6 days in a row.
However, we had to run proofreading in parallel, and reserve some time for final QA by the project manager.
So, besides 16 translators (9 level B, 5 level B+, 2 level A), we also booked 4 more translators (all level B) as back up resources, in case any of the first choices were not available or when we need to speed up the process.
Cutting Down the Cost
Our dedicated project manager quickly found that some documents do not need any translation. After checking with the client, they also confirmed that it’s not part of the work scope.
There are tables with lots of numbers and IDs, which evidently do not need translation, so our project manager hid them out and excluded them from the work scope.
We managed translations with CAT tools, which can easily spot the repetition within a bunch of different documents.
We charged only 10% of the standard price for the repetitions. Other Chinese translation agencies usually charge 30% or 100% for the same repetition.
Set the Priorities
The client told us that some documents are more important than the others, so special attention should be paid to those documents, which meant an extra round of proofreading and QA are needed.
Terminologies and Keywords
Our project manager quickly picked out frequently appearing key terminologies and important property names such as brands, corporate entity names, address, people’s names.
We provided an Excel sheet that contains those keywords and client-approved translations to translators to keep consistency.
Keep Track of Everything
We created a group chat for all translators as the team collaboration tool. The translators dropped their questions in the conversation, and our project manager collected those questions, then distributed the answers to the client to make the communication more efficient.
By the end of every day, translators would send back translation for status tracking purpose only, so that project manager would have a topographic view on project status:
- What’s the completion percentage in general?
- Who are behind schedule?
- What actions should be taken to get back on track and on schedule?
- When to take action?
Our dedicated project manager kept track of everything and reported the status on a daily basis to the client.
Fast Actions to Speed Up the Process
After delivery, the client provided feedback from different departments requesting fast and free revisions.
Thankfully, we adopted a CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool to manage all required changes in a central place, help minimize inconsistency, and boost the translation quality despite the limited time we had.
The client was pleased with our turnaround speed and fast action upon their feedback.
Good-looking Sidekicks Like Typesetting
Typesetting was also crucial in the project. However, clients do not know that we also do this and we sincerely believe that the layout is equally essential to translation. A terrible design would hurt translation and corporate brand to some extent.
While our translators were working on legal contents translation, our DTP specialist was trimming the layout, making it more orderly and pleasant.
Once the DTP work was done, our dedicated project manager imported those documents into our CAT tool, which will replace the source language with translation in the precisely the same look, in a split of seconds.
So, How Did We End?
We have successfully completed the legal translations of 440,000 words legal contracts and agreements in just 6 days, including translation, proofreading, QA and typesetting.
We had 13 translators, 2 proofreaders, 1 DTP specialist, and 1 project manager on this translation project.
Given the work volume, we only charged 24,350 USD for all the translations (English and Portuguese).
And NO Charge for the Rush Job
Why do we not charge a rush fee?
One of the most crucial factors why the client chose to work with us is that they do not feel that they were taken advantage of. In comparison, all of their frequent collaborators are charging very high rush fees for this extremely urgent work to meet their deadline.
After job completion, one of the client contacts became a terrific friend of us, told us that they were seeing quotes from 60,000 USD to 85,000 USD by the time they contacted us.
We seemed to be the most reasonable one. And we showed our professionalism by sitting side by side, to solve their problem, as if it was our problem. The client felt lucky and grateful to have worked with us; otherwise, they would have been billed a lot for:
- Work that does not need translation at all (we carefully hide out the parts that do not require translation to save cost and trim down the work scope)
- Full texts without taking consideration of repetitions (compare that we can spot redundancies and apply 90% off for the repetition).
- Extravagant amount of money on rush fees (while we charge nothing)
How much is the rush fee?
Rush fee, which ranges from 25% to 300% on top of standard translation price, has been a standard practice in the translation industry.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right way, just because everyone is doing it. We believe working side by side with the client, thinking in their shoes, making the impossible possible would be the key to success—both for the client and for ourselves.
Are we a good match?
We have proven once again that with excellent project management, translating 440,000 words in 6 days is not only possible but also quite acceptable in budget and quality. Do you have a similar request? Having an impossible deadline? Try with us, and leave your problems to us. For we will take good care of them.
We cannot take credit for everything, because the client was super supportive as well, whenever we need an answer, clarification or reference, we would get them from the client. And we really appreciated that!
We have seen good clients and bad ones as well. As we are constrained by resources, we will only serve those deserve our attention and time. We will only focus on clients who would like to take their business to the next level.