Thomas L. West III, a former attorney who left a five-year career with a leading Atlanta law firm in 1995 to pursue his interest in foreign languages and open a translation service, has been named president-elect of the American Translators Association (ATA). The ATA is an organization of 7,500 professional translators across the U.S. and 30 other countries.

The owner of Intermark Language Services Corp., a translation company specializing in legal and financial documents, told GlobalFax that when he becomes president of the ATA in 2002, his goal will be to raise awareness of translation as a profession. Mr. West said that despite the recent availability of translation software, he is not worried that computers will make human translators unnecessary.

In fact, the recent availability of translation software has helped, rather than hurt, the profession of translating, he said.

“If you translate information from a foreign language into English with that software, you can see that the result is gibberish,” he said. “And that makes people more aware that they need a professional translator.”  

Mr. West, who speaks five languages and holds degrees in French and German, works with immigration lawyers, companies involved in overseas joint ventures and expansion, firms applying for foreign trademarks and overseas firms. The translators who work for him by e-mail live in different parts of the country and are all non-practicing lawyers as well as translators.

The entrepreneur is also the author of the self-published Spanish-English Dictionary of Law and Business. The dictionary, which is selling well on, he said, offers translations of legal terms from many different Spanish-speaking countries such as El Salvador and Bolivia. Most books of its kind deal only with terms used in Mexican and Spanish law, he said.

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