Multilingual Lease Abstraction – Process & Key Points
Outsourcing of multilingual lease abstraction requires due diligence and linguistic competence in the legal sphere. Due diligence is essential on the part of the client in selecting a suitable vendor, and on the part of the linguist who performs the abstraction. This article discusses the various aspects that require attention for the success of a multilingual lease abstraction process.
Aligning with Client’s Process
The first and most critical step in outsourcing a lease abstraction process is hand-holding. The transition of knowledge and training is imperative so that the vendor can replicate the process of the client, as well as the output desired by the client. We are assuming at this stage, that the primary reason for outsourcing is linguistic. That is, the client needs to replicate its lease abstraction process for leases that are in different languages.
The template is an organized, structured format for the recording of important information in a summarized database. This is usually in a tabular form in a spreadsheet. The structure and format are uniformly applied to all leases. Most abstracts these days are created in MS-Excel, although Numbers and Google-Forms may also be used.
Qualities of a good Abstract Template
The design of an abstract template can determine the success of the abstraction process. The process of abstraction is useful only if the purpose is achieved. A poorly designed template can defeat the very objective of abstraction.
A template should have distinct sections corresponding to general, specific and critical data. Its layout should facilitate ease of recording, reading, filtering and searching information. It should be amenable to database management systems such as MS-Excel and MS-Access. Furthermore, it should also be clear and unambiguous. Its field names should be clear and make it simple for the abstractors to understand what information ought to be recorded where. The design should also be simplified and structured in a logical manner.
Distinction between General, Relevant & Critical Data
Abstraction involves distinguishing and sifting relevant data from the irrelevant. Further, relevant data can be further distinguished based on the significance and criticality. We like to classify this category under general, specific and critical.
Irrelevant is all the information that forms part of the elaborate language that is typical of legal documents. These include long sentences, citations, elaborations and explanations that don’t add value to the actual agreement. Such sentences are standard drafts that could be found in various similar documents, and which will be usually disregarded while a lawyer or reader scans through them.
Within such irrelevant information is embedded at certain times, critical, relevant and important data that may remain unnoticed by oversight.
Data that is significant for the purpose of the particular lease agreement is what one looks for while searching and making decisions and taking actions. Among these are:
This refers to clauses and sections that are repetitive and common to most similar leases. These can be general terms and conditions, rights, duties and obligations. Usually, for the purpose of understanding, these sections can be summarized in a single phrase or sentences. Abstractors and data managers can create a list of such clauses, and simply indicate them with ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘active’, ‘valid’, ‘invalid’ and so on.
Figure 1: General Data
The language in the above sample and highlighted in grey is general data. These are general clauses, terms and conditions that are common to most leases in the set.
This refers to data that is specific to the particular lease in hand. These include the names of the lessee, lessor and other parties to the agreement, their addresses, property description, dimensions, rent values, amounts and figures, dates of execution, renewal and termination, and so on.
Critical data is that data that requires special notice, and which needs to be remembered in particular, or for which reminders need to be set. Elements of both general as well as specific data can be critical. For example, renewal dates, notice periods and provisions for lapses and grace periods are typically critical.
Similarly, there can be aspects from general data too, which are significant. For examples, general clauses pertaining to who may be responsible for maintenance, reminders, notices etc. can vary from agreement to agreement, and must be distinguished from the general data. All aspects of the lease where time is of essence are also critical and must be factored in the process of data management and action plans.
Figure 2: Specific and Critical Data
The above samples shows examples of data specific to the lease agreement. These are marked in yellow. The data marked in green are of greater significance and are termed critical data for the purpose of this article.
The Linguistic Aspect
The difference between a regular lease abstraction and a multilingual lease abstraction process is that of language. Whereas the source lease in a regular abstraction project is in English or a given language, the leases in a multilingual process may be in languages other than the one in which the abstraction is done. This means, that lease agreements may be in many different languages, but the abstraction for all will be done in English or a common language.
The language of abstraction is determined by the following factors. Which is the language that the administration team speaks? Which is the language that the management is accustomed to? More importantly, which is the language in which the central processing team of the client is going to work in. Universally, such language is English. However, the Anglo-centric approach certainly does not apply for corporations with headquarters in other countries, where the local language may be used.
When a linguist assumes the job of lease abstraction, they deviate from the core job of translation and interpretation and assume the role of a legal expert. They must therefore be not only specialized in legal translation and terminology, but also fulfill the requirements of due diligence as is required of a lease abstractor. In addition to converting data from one language to another, the linguist performs two further tasks. Firstly they are summarizing data. Secondly, they are to check for possible loopholes and important aspects, that must be recorded or reported in an effective way, such that the system and process will recognize them.
Figure 3: Aspects of Multilingual Lease Abstraction
Case Study in Multilingual Lease Abstraction