translation services

The Ins & Outs of Legal Translation Services

In Blog by Rafael Morel

In this post we’ll discuss why legal translation services are different than any other ones and how to chose the ones that will help rather than hinder your business growth.

How would it feel to need a translation of 50 legal documents for a government agency project on a 3-day deadline?

Stressful, right?

Let’s add to that the lack of an experienced and trusted translator to work with… business’ worst case scenario.

Legal translation services are quite different than any others because, well, Google translator can’t even begin to help. A certified translator of legal documents has the essential job of acting as a liaison between the company, attorneys and state. Legal translation is a task that carries great responsibility.

The question that we get asked the most when we provide legal translation services is

How fast can you do it?

We get it – when there is an important deal or a government fine at stake, speed is the first thing businesses care about.

It’s no trouble at all when you have a page or two to translate – most legal translators will manage that in 24 hours. But imagine what happens when you have a pile of legal documents often required for setting up a business overseas. How fast can they do it?

This is the key to a reputable agency evaluation – the speed with which they can deliver bulk legal translations.

TIP: When you ask for turnaround time, ask about volume as well. It’s a small detail but might matter a lot in big deals.

The importance of accuracy

It’s out of the question to work with a legal translator that gets your business name wrong. It’s more than unprofessional and often throws your marketing efforts to waste. Such a mistake even makes your international contract invalid.

Accuracy is something to look after when hiring a legal translator. And if he or she make a mistake you shouldn’t be the one paying for it.

Apart from failed deals and delayed processes, the lack of accuracy can be insulting for many international business partners.

In many eastern cultures for example, making a mistake with a business name, date or other relevant information can be considered disrespect and break the relationship forever.

Other time, inaccurate statements get you into legal obligations that you never meant to commit to like delivering in 30 days instead of 60 days.

TIP: Review a legal translator’s previous work. Who did they work for? Ask for references and be certain that they’re reliable and committed to accuracy in their work.

Oops, we’ve missed a page

Doesn’t this sound like a nightmare?

Imagine, a 50 page contract that you sign with your new international partners and your legal translator misses a page full of important clauses. It might not be intentional but it’s negligence

If this has happened before with a translator, avoid working with them ever again. In a translator’s work (not only in legal translation), attention to detail is one of the most essential qualities to look for.

TIP: Offer a small test job (paid, of course) to a legal translator first. In this way you can save money and time and make up your own mind about their attention to detail while evaluating it.

Can’t you say that in Spanish?

I’ve always been astonished how a person who speaks a language thinks he or she qualifies as a translator.

It’s not only the professional (and in this case legal) certification that a translator needs – she or he needs to know the culture as well as the language.

For example, in Turkey people aren’t called by their last name but by their first name even in a business setting. So Mr. Aykut would be Aykut Kaan (Mr. Kaan in the U.S). This changes the whole legal setting behind a contract or an application for a loan.

Such small details, when overlooked, tremendously slow down negotiations, government project applications and other processes that are essential for expansion and business growth overseas.

TIP: Look for professional legal translation services that specialize in one or more languages and cultures. You don’t want your business to be the guinea pig of someone’s intern.


There are many ins and outs of legal translation services that you can’t be aware of without trying first. If you hired the wrong person once, the mistakes are their fault. But if you hire them again, well, it’s your fault.

You can’t afford to ignore the specific requirements of legal translation and hire people that can’t do an outstanding job simply because this means lost business opportunities, embarrassment and even worse – huge fines and wasted resources.

Instead of losing sleep over your legal translator’s unsatisfying work, get a professional with a proven track record that knows that details, speed, accuracy and cultural knowledge do matter.

If you have a specific need for legal translation services, get a FREE price quote today, or feel free to contact us and we’d be more than happy to help!