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Successful Legal Translation: 5 Stress Free Tips

tips for legal document translation

Last updated on May 22nd, 2019 at 05:55 pm

legal translation tips
5 Tips to Ensure Quality Legal Translation

The most impactful business transactions and application processes tend to have the biggest legal implications.  From the process of entering into a global business contract, acquisition abroad to the personal level of applying for immigration or international adoption, each decision you make carries significant consequences.  The process itself can be stressful enough, and carrying that through on an international scale can make it all the more daunting.  Legal translation, when done right, ensures that all official documents required for a successful merger or contractual agreement is accepted.  Finding the best Legal Translation Services to match your needs is crucial.

When requesting legal translation service to translate official documents from one language to another, there are steps that you can take to help guarantee high quality and timely legal translation.  We are glad to provide you with five of the most important tips that will give you peace of mind that the translation will meet your needs.


Tip #1 Think of Translation in the First Stage of Your legal process.  How can you help yourself make the legal translation process as cost effective as possible?  By planning ahead!  The legal translation process is a complex one filled with specific legal terminologies and implications.  By making legal translation a top priority in the first stage of your process, you can begin budgeting as much time as possible to dedicate to translation of your documents. Having enough time can help eliminate rush translation fees and also give you ample time to secure the best legal translators for the job.  By having more time, you’ll also be able to properly produce and compile the legal documents required to submit them for translation.

By making legal translation a top priority in the first stage of your process, you can begin budgeting as much time as possible to dedicate to translation of your documents. Click To Tweet

Tip #2 Know exactly what documents need to be translated and the level of certification required for each. Legal documents can be both complex and extensive.  Oftentimes, there are pages that don’t need to be translated and this is something you’d need to clarify first with your attorney and/or entity requesting these legal translations.  Once you have a list of documents that need translation, you’ll need to share this list with the translation company.  Clearly identifying which of your legal documents need translating and providing the specific instructions for certifications can save you time and money. Each country or organization petitioning the translated documents have their owns requirement for certifications. Some banks and insurance agencies require certified translation and some countries will only accept the foreign document if it comes with an Apostille. Having the specific instructions for the certifications will help the translation company provide the adequate certificate per document.


Tip #3 Determine the dialect.  There are variations in spelling, grammar and style for each language. For instance, several elements of the English language written and spoken in the U.S is different from British English.  The same applies for other languages including Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish.  Such differences are significant and can add another level of complexity in working with legal content.  So, when asking about legal translation of documents from English to Spanish, be sure to determine if the translations should be made into Spanish for Mexico, Spain, or another Spanish speaking country.  You will need this information to help the translation company you’re working with to assign a legal translator who is a native speaker of the specific Spanish dialect.

When asking about legal translation of documents from English to Spanish, be sure to determine if the translations should be made into Spanish for Mexico, Spain, or another Spanish speaking country. Click To Tweet

Tip #4 Gain an understanding of the legal system.  Just as each dialect of a language is unique to each country, so is each country’s legal system.  A country’s legal system contains concepts reflected in its legal language which are culturally-dependent, and you’ll need a legal translator who is as knowledgeable of those concepts as he or she is in the target language.  Legal documents translated for a court will especially require extra care from the translator to ensure accurate legal terminology is used for that country.  Be sure to provide all the information and supporting documents early in the process.


Tip #5 Hire a professional legal translator for your legal document translation.  You wouldn’t trust any person to make medical prescriptions to you, so you shouldn’t trust an inexperienced legal translator to handle the translation of your legal documents!  There is simply too much on the line when it comes to legal matters for even the smallest translation mistake to slip through.  We’ve seen in this translation blog the severity of what a translation mistake can do to an outcome of a court hearing and the timing of a major international transaction.  Conversely, hiring a professional legal translator to translate legal documents will help move an application or transaction process along to completion without the risk of delays.


Other important considerations during Legal Translation Services

  • Develop a glossary of key terms with the translator. Here’s an instance in which a glossary would help: Sometimes a legal term in English has more than one equivalent in the target language.  By creating a glossary, you’ll be able to indicate the term (in the target language) that you prefer so it is used consistently and correctly throughout the translated document.  This is important in the case of patents and product development where industry terminology and company terminology is extremely important and must be very clear and specific.
  • Keep your translation company updated! After years of experience in handling legal translation projects for clients, we know well that deadlines can change unexpectedly and quickly.  Date of deposition can get pushed up, or additional documents may need to be translated before a given date.  Changes in documents may happen in the middle of the translation process.  You’ll need to communicate these changes to your translation company as soon as you find out about them, this will help the translation company adapt, add resources to you project, and allows your translators adjust their own schedules to ensure the legal translation they provide is of the best possible quality presentable in court.



Put Your Client’s Mind at Ease with Legal Translation Services

Legal translation, with its complexities and critical role in legal processes, must be done with complete accuracy and precision.  One error could result in unjust outcomes and deprive an innocent party of the rights and freedoms they’re entitled to.  This is why you need to include legal translation services as part of your client’s legal process, to ensure that the translated content is accurate and effective for their needs.  A translation company like JR Language has access to translators who specialize in legal translation and are masters of not only the source and target languages you require but also an in depth understanding of the relevant legal concepts and terminology.


Plan with enough time, collect and finish all the documentations that require translation early in the process. Contact the translation company early in the process too so you can plan the best approach for a stress free, successful legal translation.

Flora Yu
Flora Yu
Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.