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Factors to consider when translating legal documents


The demand for professional legal translation services has grown remarkably in the recent years. Today, in a globalised world, translations within the legal sector cover much more than simple visa applications or contracts. Nowadays, individual clients, law firms as well as businesses and organisations work directly with translation agencies in order to achieve their goals and trade within international markets.

Professional translations are however a complex and difficult process. For the documents and material to be accurately conveyed and carefully localised, a number of factors must be taken into the account prior to the translation. Today, we'll talk about some of them.

Choose wisely

One of the very first steps a law firm, company or a legal professional will have to take is choosing the right translation agency to work with. The translation market is a very competitive place, and so finding providers who are able to cover your required languages shouldn't be a problem. Nonetheless, it's important to choose a translation company which is officially accredited, as this guarantees higher accuracy.

The translation agency you contact should be a member of the ATC (Association of Translation Companies). Another good way of ensuring the competence of a translation provider could simply be reviews. Whether on Google reviews or websites such as Trustpilot – reviews and testimonials from people who have previously worked with the agency can tell you a lot about it.

Sector and language experts

Another important aspect to consider when choosing a translation provider is their expertise and experience within translating for the legal sector. As previously mentioned, legal translation services are a complex process and not everyone will be able to provide high levels of accuracy within this segment.

If unsure, ask the chosen translation agency for a short sample of their work, or for a sample translation of your document. This will allow you to see whether their linguists were able to reliably convey specific legal terms and the legal jargon, which are very often essential within the documents.

Different systems

The legal systems differ between countries, and this must be kept consistent throughout the translated document. A professional legal linguist will be able to translate your material and localise different terms and find appropriate synonyms where literal substitutes simply do not exist. A great example of this could be the names and hierarchy of courts of law within different legal systems.


Legal documents are very often, if not always, confidential and translating them shouldn't change that. By choosing a translation agency which is willing, or offers, to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before receiving your documents and proceeding with the translation, you're taking the steps necessary in order to protect your clients and business.

Certified translation

Some of the reasons for translating legal documents would include presenting them in front of the court and other legal authorities or to complete a bonding agreement. Consequently, the documents must hold a legal power and be officially recognised.

One of the factors to consider when choosing a translation agency would be ensuring that the company is officially accredited and able to provider a certified translation service in the language you require.

Turnaround times

In the legal sector, fast turnaround times are a necessity. Often, official documents need to be translated within very short periods of time in order to be included and support a case. Essentially, it is key to work with a linguist who is not only able to complete the translation quickly, but who at the same time will ensure that the quality won't be compromised. When working with documents which need to be translated swiftly into several languages, liaising directly with an agency can ultimately be the best solution, as you'll save time researching linguists who can cover each language individually.

Native linguists

Whilst choosing a translation company to work with, it's essential to ensure that the linguists assigned to your documents are native speaker of your target language. This ensures accuracy and reliability as native speakers have a much better understanding of not only the target language or jargon, but also of the legal system.

As you can see, translating a legal document or material isn't as straightforward as it may seem at first. Before going ahead with the translation, there is a number of factors you should consider, from choosing the best translation agency for your material to signing a non-disclosure agreement. Working with a translation company which specialises in business and officially certified translations usually guarantees the highest levels of accuracy and ensures reliability, which are essential within the business environment. 

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Comments 1

George Trail Translator (website) on Tuesday, 12 March 2019 07:05

“Nice info!”

“Nice info!”
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