You’re an experienced and well-regarded immigration attorney. You’ve been retained to shepherd a family through an EB-5 visa application, and you contact your translator of choice. But you can’t reach him … he’s decided to hang up his dictionary, his dictation equipment and his PC, and go sailing. So you start looking. You land on some professional-looking translation agency websites, and the client testimonials for all of them look impressive. The quotes you’ve requested have all come back quickly, and the prices quoted are more or less even. Now you get to choose. How do you pick from this bunch of seemingly equal legal translation services?

Easy. Ask the translation companies to tell you a bit about the person to whom they will assign your project. Not the type of person (smart, knowledgeable, blah, blah), but the name of the person, her academic and professional histories, how long she’s been translating in the language combination you need, and her experience in translating the types of documents at hand. Ask for the translator’s CV. If it takes more than ten minutes to get the CV back, you must wonder. Asking these questions may consume an extra 15 minutes of your time up front, but that’s a pittance compared to the time necessary to correct a sloppy translation—or even worse, to scrap it and look for another agency. And that’s time and money that your client doesn’t want to waste.

A good legal translation services provider roster will include credentialed translators, subject-matter experts, U.S.- and foreign-licensed attorneys, professors, and other professionals. Before engaging them, the agency will thoroughly evaluate their credentials, and be happy to share them with you, if you’re interested. If an agency is unwilling to do this, or if it’s secretive and evasive, think twice before entrusting your important documents to them.