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Top 6 Challenges Of Legal Translations and How To Overcome Them

Posted by Anne Q. on January 11, 2022.

When you enter any foreign market, legal is one of the key factors that you need to consider with utmost care. Documents such as contracts, international agreements, insurance claims, intellectual p property documents, patents, incorporation articles, and more need to be translated to provide you and your target audience with accurate information and avoid costly lawsuits.

One bad news is legal translation is far from an easy task. You will face numerous challenges when translating your legal documents. In today’s post, let’s check out the top 6 problems of legal translations and get some tips to overcome them.

#1. Over-Translating Legal Content

If you have a large volume legal translation project, you should carefully consider which content should be translated. Do you need to translate every single document or just some important parts? Translating everything is not always a good thing. It means you have to pay much more money for the project while the turnaround time is lengthened. What’s more, some content that is translated might not even be used.

Over-Translating Legal Content

So when you prepare for the project, define what needs to be translated and clearly inform your translators about what they need to work on.


#2. Lacking Knowledge about Legal Systems in Other Countries

The laws and legal standards in each country are unique. Not all terms and legal jargons that are common in your country exist or have the same meaning as others. As a result, your translators are required to have not only a good command of languages but also a deep understanding of both source and target countries’ legal systems.


#3. Using Machine Legal Translations

Machine translation is great for a quick translation that gives you a basic understanding of an internal document such as an email or memo. However, when it comes to legally binding documents for external use, machine translation is not a wise option.

Using Machine Translation for Legal Documents

As we mentioned above, the legal systems of each country are different. Unfortunately, machine translation doesn’t understand these differences. Thus, it can only provide you with word-for-word legal translations that can be very confusing to readers. For such important content, we highly recommend you work with professional legal translators.


#4. Forgetting to Prepare a Legal Translation Glossary

A translation glossary can make or break the success of your legal translations. The legal terms used in each company follow its own internal policies and standards. Some terms might not share the same meanings and be used as people normally think. Therefore, you might need to explain the definition and context of these terms so that translators can use them accurately and consistently throughout the legal translations.

A translation glossary is even more helpful when your legal documents are translated by two or three linguists at the same time. It makes sure that all translators use the same translation for a specific term, increasing the document’s consistency.

In case you don’t have a translation glossary for your legal translations yet, or you don’t know how to build one, you can always ask for help from your translation partners. They can give you a typical, basic legal translation glossary for your reference. You can start creating one yourself from this and then have your glossary reviewed by your translation partners later.


#5. Setting Tight Deadlines

Legal translation requires more than just translating words from one language to another. Important factors such as the differences between the law systems of the two countries need to be taken into consideration and many changes or adaptations must be made. You cannot expect to have a legal contract translated within a day without sacrificing the translation quality.

Setting Tight Deadlines for Legal Translation

When receiving an urgent legal translation request, legal translation agencies are likely to assign the task to more than one linguist. Even though the deadline can be met thanks to this option, the consistency may suffer and of course, the price you pay is double or triple that for a normal project.

Therefore, if you want to achieve a highly accurate and cost-saving legal translation project, don’t set an unrealistic deadline. You should plan ahead for your important translation projects and give your legal translators enough time to produce quality translations.


#6. Working With Inexperienced Legal Translators

As legal translations necessitate specific knowledge and experience in handling legal terminology and producing accurate target-language materials, they cannot be translated by just a random non-specialized bilingual translator. Keep in mind that only translators who have trained and worked with different lawyers and law firms are qualified for your translation projects. This is because legally specialized translators will have a better understanding of the legal system and the target market’s unique terminology.


Get trusted legal translations 

By addressing common challenges in legal translations and partnering up with qualified translators or translation agencies, you can get accurate and high-quality translated legal documents within a reasonable deadline.

If you need help with your legal translation projects, get in touch with GTE Localize’s legal translator team. With a team of native legal translators with years of experience in translating legal documents, GTE Localize is confident to bring you high-quality and highly-accurate legal translation for all major language pairs in the world.

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