The Skills Required for Legal Translation

The Skills Required for Legal Translation

March 10, 2023

When it comes to translating legal documents, there is no room for error. The slightest mistake could have major implications, so choosing a legal translation service with experience and expertise is important.

Etcetera Language Group, Inc. is a leading provider of legal translation services. With over 20 years of experience in the legal translation industry, they are the clear choice for legal translation needs. Their team of highly trained linguists and their advanced technology ensures that all translations are accurate and precise. They offer a wide range of services, from document translations to website localizations, making finding the right solution for your legal translation needs easy.

This blog post will outline the skills and considerations required for legal translation.

What is Legal Translation?

Legal document translation services translate documents and text from one language into another for legal proceedings or research. The most common type of legal translation is document translation, which involves translating documents such as contracts, court rulings, and patents. Other types of legal translation include interpreting, which is translating spoken words in real-time, and transcription, which is translating recorded speech.

What Skills are Required for Legal Translation?

Fluency in Source Target Languages

As a legal translator, an excellent command of the source target languages is essential for any certified translation service. This is because legal documents are often highly technical and use specialized vocabulary. A translator who is not fluent in the source target languages is likely to miss nuances and make errors that could change the meaning of the text.

Strong Research Skills

Besides linguistic skills, translators working in the legal field must have strong research skills. They must often look up unfamiliar terms and concepts and check references and citations. A good researcher will find the information they need quickly and accurately, ensuring that the final translation is accurate and fit for purpose.

Excellent Writing Skills

Writing skills are also important for legal translators. They must draft documents from scratch rather than translate them. A good writer will produce clear, concise texts that non-experts can understand easily. Also, they can change their writing style to accommodate various audiences and needs.

Cultural Understanding

Finally, cultural competence is an important skill for any translator working in the legal field. This is because many legal concepts and terms are culture-specific, and a lack of cultural understanding can lead to errors in translation. A culturally competent translator will know these issues and ensure their translations are accurate and appropriate for the target audience.

In addition, cultural competence can help to avoid potential cultural sensitivities. When translating legal documents, it is important to consider the cultural context in which they created the document. For example, a contract written in English may use different legal terminology than one written in Spanish. A good translator will be familiar with both sets of terminology and be able to produce an accurate translation that considers the cultural context of the source text.

Besides understanding the source culture, it is also important to be aware of potential cultural sensitivities. Certain topics, such as religion or politics, can be sensitive in some cultures. A good translator will consider these sensitivities when translating a text.

The Importance of Accuracy in Legal Translation

As the old saying goes, “accuracy is key,” especially with legal translation services. Inaccurate translations can have serious consequences, ranging from financial losses to damage to reputation. Sometimes, they can even lead to legal action against the translator or the translation company.

So, what can you do to avoid these potential pitfalls?

  1. The first step is to choose a legal translation service with experience and expertise in the relevant legal domain. They should have a team of qualified translators familiar with the terminology and concepts used in that area of law.
  2. It is also important to check that the translator understands the source text well. This may involve sending them a copy of the text in advance so that they can assess its difficulty level and prepare accordingly.
  3. Once the translation is complete, it is essential to proofread it carefully before sending it to the client.

Remember a few other things to ensure accuracy in your legal translations.

  • Always use clear and concise language.
  • Avoid ambiguity wherever possible, as this can often lead to misunderstandings.
  • Ensure they correctly translate any names or terms specific to the legal domain; otherwise, the reader could interpret them wrongly.

Key Considerations for Choosing a Legal Translation Service

When choosing a legal translation service, several key considerations must be remembered. These include:

The Size of the Company

The size of the company can be an important consideration. Larger companies may have the resources to handle more complex projects, while smaller companies may be more agile and able to respond to changes more quickly.

Experience With Your Specific Legal Domain

Experience with your specific legal domain is another important consideration. You will want to choose a legal translation service with experience translating documents in your legal domain. This will ensure that they are familiar with the terminology and concepts used in your field.


Whether a relevant organization certified this legal translation service is also something to consider. Certification can ensure that the company meets certain standards of quality.

Policies on Confidentiality and Data Security

Finally, consider a legal translation service’s confidentiality and data security policies. This is important because you must be confident that your confidential information will be safe with the company.


At Etcetera Language Group, Inc., we have developed a reputation for going above and beyond for our clients. If you want to learn more about our services, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to helping you achieve your legal translation goals.

Categorised in: ,

Get Updates in Your Inbox!

Brochure CTA - A

FREE BROCHURE: Have International Clients? Look Professional by Hiring Professionals!

Discover why more businesses are turning to Etcetera Language Group for translation services – excellence isn’t something we strive for, it’s something we provide.

Download Now

Etcetera Language Group