Legal Translation: What You Need To Know

When it comes to multinational companies, legal documents such as contracts and product licenses are often required to be produced in multiple languages. Due to the fact that these documents are so technical, a simple error can result in drastic consequences for the company involved. That is why they must hire professional legal document translation services to ensure that no costly mistakes are made in the process of translating their important legal documents.

What is legal translation? 

Legal translation is the translation of laws, legal procedures, contracts, patents, and other legal text. Unlike many other types of texts, legal documents must be as exact as possible in order to ensure that no misunderstandings occur. 

One of the most common misconceptions is that a legal translator has to be a lawyer. Contrary to popular belief, lawyers are not translators, and translators are not lawyers. By the same token, legal translators do not have to be lawyers, though they must have a solid understanding of the laws and legal systems in both languages.

Some examples of documents related to law that can be translated are the following:

  • Contracts 
  • Complaints 
  • Litigation documentation 
  • Court and witness transcripts 
  • Depositions 
  • Confidentiality agreements 
  • Legal disclaimers
  • Wills and trusts 
  • Arbitration translation 
  • Policies 
  • Legal Statements 
  • Licenses 

Why Is It Important To Hire Professionals For Translation?

The translation industry is becoming more demanding when it comes to translation quality. The translation industry needs professionals who can accurately and correctly translate documents from one language into another, respecting the original meaning and form while keeping in mind each language’s laws, cultural norms, and social expressions.

Furthermore, Legal document translation is one of the most challenging types of translation, and for this reason, it is vitally important to entrust your legal documents only to certified and experienced professional translators. In addition, legal translators must be experts in their language pairs, with an advanced understanding of legal terminology and the diverse legal systems, practices, and cultural contexts of both languages.

Legal Formatting 

The legal translation should convey the essence of rights and obligations that the source text contains, both in words and meaning. It should be a faithful reflection of the source text, with no distortion or interpretation that may mislead the reader.

As a rule, the legal document cannot be translated briefly or abstractly. Instead, it must render the original in a verbatim translation with appropriate terms and set expressions. In addition to accuracy, the translator must focus on proper style and readability. The others include:


1. The nature of legal discourse 

Legal documents are categorized into prescriptive texts and descriptive texts. Hybrid texts contain both functions. Legal documents have legal effects. 

2. The treatment of legal terminology 

Legal terminology is used to refer to the technical language and specialized vocabulary used in law. Legal document translation is characterized by a high degree of abstraction and terminological density. Technical terms are often used as shorthand expressions for fundamental norms, principles, or concepts. 

3. The role of the translator 

The translator is considered an expert in legal systems, languages, and cultures. He must master both source and target language and culture and have knowledge of the legal systems on both sides. He must also be familiar with all relevant legislative and judicial documents and legal dictionaries, monolingual and bilingual terminological databases, or glossaries published by national institutions and organizations dealing with specific sectors (e.g., COM/TRADOS).

4. Consideration for cultural differences 

Legal translation involves a wide range of factors related to professional competence, linguistic competence, cultural competence, and thematic competence. In cross-cultural communication, interlocutor. Professional translation services can offer their expertise for better outcome.


Before beginning your translation work, understand how the translation will be used. This will affect how you go about your work, and will give you a more refined approach to the  Legal document translation.