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How to translate legal documents (and when to get help!)

Wolfestone explains how to translate legal documents and when to get help. Contact us for professional and accurate legal translation services.

It's a truth universally acknowledged that every internationally-operating company will have to deal with legal translation at some point. From corporate acquisitions to legal action, there isn't an global industry that can escape the need for legal translation.

So, if you need to know how to translate legal documents, this article is for you. We’ll break down the process with some starting points to check, as well as crucial information to be aware of, and the three key things you need to know without fail.

The key thing to note is that there is likely to be only so much you can do on your own before seeking help from professional translation services. Legal translation is a highly-complex process and it’s essential that the meaning of the translated document corresponds with the source exactly. Minor errors in legal translation could cause irreparable damage to your company's bank balance, let alone your reputation.

But for now, we’ve broken this article down to help you understand the process of how to translate legal documents.

How to translate legal documents - three things to check before starting:

Before kicking off the translation of legal documents, it’s important to start by checking your original content for three key elements:

1. Accuracy

Before you start translating, conduct a thorough check to ensure your original document is coherent, clearly structured and organised. It’s also worth considering having a legal professional check over your document first to ensure the accuracy.

If your legal translation has started and you then need to make changes to the original document, not only does this slow the process down, but it also makes the legal translation process much more complicated, and more likely to result in errors.

2. Terminology

One of the trickiest elements when translating legal documents is matching the terminology perfectly. It’s crucial that you’re using the correct vocabulary and legal jargon in the original document before it gets translated.

If your original document doesn’t have the correct terminology, your legal document may be rendered obsolete – and the mistakes will be replicated in your translation.

3. Tone

As well as being factually correct, much like any other documents, legal papers need to have the correct tone to ensure the desired outcome. In order to have the right tone in your newly translated document, it’s of course crucial that the tone is correct in the original language.

For example, if an legal notice isn’t communicated with enough severity, the recipient may not understand the urgency of the situation and fail to act accordingly. Ensure your tone is perfect before you start translating to allow the translated document to be an exact match.

Legal Translation

How to translate legal documents - three things to be wary of

Once you’ve arranged your original document as intended, with the correct terminology and structure required, in theory the translation can start.

When knowing how to translate legal documents, there are an additional three elements to be wary of. It’s crucial you go through each of these steps carefully so as to not make any errors that may result in further complications.

1. Law changes and variations

The law is constantly changing and evolving, and something that’s legal in one country may be illegal in another. When knowing how to translate legal documents, it’s imperative that you know the law in the country for the language into which you’re translating.

It’s essential that you’re up to date on current legal developments that impact your industry and documents. Sound tricky? One way to do this successfully is to work with a professional translation service that specialises in legal work. Here at Wolfestone, we guantee that our legal translators are hand-picked for their expertise in legal translation and your specific industry.

2. Linguistic structures

In all translations, there are situations where a direct word-for-word translation isn’t possible. This is especially true for translating legal documents, because many legal concepts and terminology does not exist in another region or country.

It’s important to be aware of this when translating legal documents. It's vital to have the ability to find new ways or equivalents of saying things in your desired language.

If you use a professional translation service, such as Wolfestone, we have the knowledge and ability to translate complex legal documents with the correct jargon and terminology.

3. Confidentiality

If you do choose to work with a professional translation service, make sure to hire a trustworthy, professional agency. This is because in many legal cases, such documents contain highly sensitive and confidential data.

You need to be sure that the translator you’re working with will keep any information confidential. What's more, using free translation tools like Google Translate may violate GDPR legislation.

This isn’t something you need to worry about when working with Wolfestone. All our translators sign an NDA stating that they can’t share confidential information, ensuring your content is protected. With over 14 years of expertise and multiple independently-verified ISO certifications to ensure security in our internal processes, Wolfestone guarantees you the highest possible level of security for your documents.

Person translating legal documentation


How to translate legal documents - three things to need to know without fail

1. Your industry, niche and the terminology for that industry.

This will be crucial for establishing a credible document that holds legal authority.

2. The legal system in the country for the language you’re translating into.

This is vital so that your translated document legally stands in the country you need it to be in.

3. Your chosen language, including industry and legal terminology

The translator should be a native speaker of the language you’re translating into, as well as fluent in the source text. They should have a particular understanding and knowledge of both your industry and legal terminology to ensure your document is translated perfectly.

Working with a translation service, such as Wolfestone, means that you have all of these three essential skills covered. Our translators are always fluent in the language you’re translating into, are experts in your industry, and have legal knowledge and experience.

Research on how to translate legal documents


Contact us

The accuracy of legal translations is crucial. One wrong word in a legal translation can alter the entire meaning of your document – with disastrous results.

For trusted legal translation services, contact Wolfestone. Our translators have years of experience in both translation and the legal system. Plus, when working with a particular industry or niche, we’ll make sure to assign you a translator with experience in your field. To avoid stress, hassle and complications, we guarantee professionalism, accuracy and the correct legal terminology every time.

Want to trust a professional with your important legal translation?

Contact us today.

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