Providing professional quality translations can be challenging no matter what industry is involved. But the legal field presents some challenges that set it apart from other industries. There are a myriad of documents that fall into the legal category, ranging from birth certificates to deposition records to business contracts and many more. Whether you’re a linguist interested in pursuing a career in legal translation, or a member of the legal profession looking for the right translator for your organization, it’s important to understand why legal document translations are different than those from other industries.


: The legal profession is, in many ways, a world unto itself, and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in legal terminology. Understanding legal terms and their appropriate usage is absolutely essential in creating a high quality translation. There are no shortcuts when it comes to knowing the language – it simply requires a great deal of experience on the part of the translator. Ideally, the linguist should have some background in the legal industry or a closely related field. But at the very least, the translator needs experience in translating legal documents.

Legal systems

It’s also important that the translator have some knowledge of the legal systems in the countries involved – in both the country of the origin document, as well as the target language/country.

Specific industry expertise

The legal industry is comprised of many different areas, including business law, immigration law, corporate law, criminal law, military law, tax law and intellectual property law, just to name a few. While it’s not necessary for the translator to know the nuances of each inside and out, it is helpful if the linguist has at least had some exposure to the specific field of law involved.


While every business translation usually has a deadline for completion, deadlines are particularly important in the legal field. Not having translated documents ready at the time a case is scheduled to go to trial, for example, could have devastating consequences.


It almost goes without saying that any business translation needs to be accurate. But in the legal profession, one small mistake could mean a delay or cancellation of a business deal; the delay or denial of a request for asylum; or the failure or dismissal of an attorney’s court case, to name just a few examples. The legal translator must pay meticulous attention to detail to ensure that the translation is as precise and accurate as possible.


Any professional translator working with legal documents should understand the highly sensitive nature of the material he or she is working with, and should take extra precautions to ensure that confidentiality is always maintained.

The legal industry presents challenges for both the legal professional and the translator. If you’re seeking the services of a professional linguist with a strong background in the legal field, you should seriously consider going through a reputable translation company. They will be able to match the services you need with the experience and expertise of a highly qualified linguist.