Paula Arturo is a lawyer, translator and former law professor. She is co-director of Translating Lawyers, a boutique company specializing in legal translations by lawyers. During her 15-year career, she has also translated, in addition to various legal and financial documents, several legal books and high-tech publications into major international magazines for high-level authors, including several Nobel laureates and renowned lawyers. She is currently a member of the ATA Ethics Committee, the Board of Directors of the ATA Literary Division and the Public Policy Forum of the Argentine Supreme Court. Contact: A widely held view of contractual freedom is that when it comes to agreements between consenting parties, almost everything is at issue. Although contractual freedom limits the government or other forms of interference or control over freely and reciprocally convened agreements,1 contracts remain limited by law. Therefore, if the provision, education or object of an agreement is contrary to the law, the contract itself is illegal.2 If translation is such a specialized professional service, in which so much is at stake for the end customer, why do so many translators work without the protection of a solid contract? One possible explanation, based on the responses of the group I interviewed, is that many translators refuse to enter into binding agreements containing “problem clauses”. As you can see in Figure 1, 48.7% of the 156 independent translators answered the question of whether they used contracts or not, and even more amazing 64.1% were that they did not have terms of use. (See Figure 2.) The results are surprising, especially considering that 82.1% of the group surveyed was dealing with direct customers and did not necessarily rely on confidentiality agreements (NDAs), orders (POs) or other legally binding documents.3 Spy clauses: by “spy clauses”, I mean any clause in which customers reserve the right to check their translator`s computer. Such clauses are not necessarily illegal, but they must be reasonable and limited to situations that warrant intrusion.

B such as national security contracts or other high-quality translation jobs. Before accepting such clauses, translators must ensure that this is not at odds with agreements with other clients or that they are violated by other means that may be affected by such inspections. If translators accept and authorize inspections, they must take the necessary steps to protect all private or confidential information and documents that belong to all other clients. Non-competition/non-advertising/non-dealing clause: these clauses are often included in agency contracts. The majority of non-compete clauses are legal, but not in all U.S. states. (They are also illegal in many countries.) In translation contracts, these are essentially clauses designed to prevent translators from competing with their agency clients. On the other hand, non-purchase clauses prevent translators from speaking to Agency clients or interested clients. The problem with this clause is obviously the difficulty of knowing who the agency`s “interested clients” are. In the meantime, non-dealing clauses are much more restrictive than competition and non-invitation clauses and are intended to deter translators from dealing with potential clients or clients, even if the client is speaking to the translator and not the other way around. These three clauses apply only in jurisdictions where they are legal and if they are valid for a certain period of time, usually up to one year, although some contracts provide for up to three contracts.

Notification of potential opportunities: this is the clause by which brokers expect their independent translators to inform them of potential new leads or market opportunities, instead of trying to seize the advantage or opportunity.