GTE Localize

How To Become Professional Legal Translator?

Posted by Ethan N. on August 21, 2023.

If you have a love for languages and a solid background in legal areas, then being a legal translator can be a great career choice. While working as a legal translator is rewarding, legal translation is considered one of the most challenging types of translation. In fact, in many countries, you are required to have a Legal Translator certification to translate different legal documents such as affidavits, patent applications, contracts, and depositions.

Thus, if you consider becoming a professional legal translator, you are embarking on a journey that will demand devotion, competence, and ongoing development. In today’s post, let’s detail the fundamental requirements to start your successful legal translation profession.

1. Master Both Source and Target Languages

It sounds almost too obvious that the prerequisite of being a translator, regardless of area, is the ability to speak at least two languages. However, speaking fluently two languages is far from assuring you of a great career as a legal translator. Even for people growing up in bilingual households which provide them with innate language comprehension, there’s no guarantee that they can accurately and effectively translate a legal document between two languages.


To be a legal translator, you need a thorough understanding of both languages, including grammar, syntactic structures, and accurate vocabulary choice. Furthermore, because legal translators usually deal with complex terminology related to the legal field, a thorough command of the target language is essential. This aspect ensures that correct translations are produced, as the translator must thoroughly understand the nuances and complexity of the language into which the text will be translated. These skills are only acquired through years of proper continuous training and practice mastering the two languages.

2. Obtain a Relevant Degree

Besides mastering and getting qualifications in the two languages you are going to offer services for, it is essential that you earn relevant degrees in law. A law-related degree gives you a great advantage as a legal translator because it’s the endorsement of your ability to comprehend legal systems, concepts, and terminology. Otherwise, you will not have the deep understanding to accurately translate legal documents and content from one language to another.


Enrolling in a university course is a great solution. However, the high costs might be a concern to many aspiring legal translators. Another option is to enrol in specialised online courses for legal students and legal translators. There are various choices for legal-related courses on platforms such as Coursera, Magistrad, or Open Learn. These courses will give you a good starting point for getting yourself familiar with legal systems, concepts, and terminology.

3. Gain Proficiency in Legal Terminology

The legal industry contains a wide range of intricate terminology that necessitates absolute accuracy and precision. It is critical, therefore, for legal translators to be well acquainted with the legal vocabulary and concepts in both languages. Engaging in reading legal books and journals, joining legal-related workshops, or simply reading legal dictionaries can all contribute to building your foundation and proficiency in legal terminology.

4. Get Certified as a Legal Translator

In some countries, certification is a requirement if you want to work as a legal translator and provide legal translation services. Being certified in the legal area requires taking a solemn oath in the courts. Meanwhile, legal translation companies frequently require the services of professional legal translators who can administer oaths and stamps to documents required for specific court proceedings.


How you can get certified varies based on each country’s requirements. There are also many organizations providing training and certification for legal translators. For example, the American Translators Association (ATA) offers a legal translation certification exam. Obtaining this certification confirms your knowledge and indicates your dedication to upholding high professional standards as a legal translation service provider.

5. Build Up Your Experience

Real-world business experience is highly needed in any area of business. Legal is no exception. Having hands-on experience in translating legal documents and content is a great way to sharpen your skills as a legal translator as well as give you more project opportunities. To build up your experience, here are some tips that we highly recommend:

  • Legal translation internships: Getting paid projects to work on when you have no experience in legal translation before is almost impossible. We would suggest you start with some internships or volunteer jobs. Working as an intern or volunteer for an experienced legal translation company can be a good start to give you some hands-on experience and exposure to real-world legal translation projects.
  • Working as a freelancer: Working as a freelance legal translator allows you to work on a variety of projects and establish a diversified portfolio. Freelancing also allows you to improve your project management and client communication abilities.
  • Find yourself a good mentor: Learning from an experienced legal translator can be valuable. Working with a mentor allows you to monitor their workflow, receive feedback, and learn about the complexities of the industry.

6. Choose a Specialized Area if Needed

As you get more experienced and go deeper into the world of legal translation, you might discover a niche that appeals to you. Specializing in this specific area of legal such as intellectual property, housing contracts, or immigration laws can give you more job opportunities. Specializing in an area can help you become an expert and get yourself more acquainted with the concepts and terminology. Your quality of work, hence, will improve significantly.

7. Seek Continuous Feedback

Feedback is a valuable tool for your continuous development as a legal translator. Don’t be afraid to ask for honest feedback from your colleagues, mentors, and even your clients. Constructive criticism assists you in identifying areas that require improvement and offers you insights that can improve the quality of your work in the future. It is also recommended that you look back on your old projects to see how much and what you have improved over time to make a suitable development plan to make you an expert in the legal translation industry.

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Wrap Up

Becoming a professional legal translator necessitates a solid linguistic background, legal knowledge, and a dedication to continuous career development. As you are preparing yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to bridge the legal and linguistic differences between different countries, don’t forget that patience and tenacity are essential, and that with hard work, you may develop a rewarding and successful career as a legal translator.


If you want to become a part of GTE Localize’s professional and experienced legal translators around the world, contact our team to discuss potential opportunities to become our legal translator.