In a field such as Law where pedantry and accuracy are key in fairness, it is incredibly important that documents translated from one language to another are 100% accurate. Thus, legal translation is not just a necessity but an absolute necessity.

This is especially true in the field of International Law in which you will study documents written in different languages when analyzing a case.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission of the United States requires non-English documents to be translated into English. As such, international law firms with a catalog of international clients have an obligation to hire legal translators for their documents.

Translation, Globalization, and the Internationalization of Law


The law pervades everything in our lives. When we get a new job, we have to sign a job contract in order to make it official. When we drive a car to go to work, we have to make sure we are not breaking any street laws or else we will be pulled over by the police. When we get home and lay down on our beds to play the recently popular Mobile Legends game, we have to agree to terms and conditions before we can enjoy it.

Meanwhile, International Law penetrates all transactions done in the global arena. International Law has been around for decades, but globalization has impacted the field of International Law in significant ways. Global companies have to abide by international law when conducting international business transactions.

International law is the fastest-growing field in the legal industry according to Harvard Law School. Meanwhile, Corporate Law is globalizing the quickest, as discussed in the Global Policy Forum. This is because businesses have realized that going international enables them to widen their client base, gain more investment opportunities, and acquire more revenue. In fact, 63% of small businesses say that their business has grown when they expanded internationally. As a response to companies going global, law firms have internationalized their service.

If a company plans to open physical stores in foreign countries, they have to abide by the target country’s laws and regulations. As such, they would need the assistance of lawyers. In previous years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was not so strict on needing non-English documents to be translated into English. However, international law firms are now required by international law to have legal translators. So when a company expands internationally, they would need back-up copies of documents in other languages.

Another reason translation is essential is because of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The first part of this international anti-corruption provision criminalizes bribery on the international level. The second part states that lawyers are responsible for proving compliance not only to the laws of the country where their central office is located but also to the laws of the foreign countries where they conduct operations. There are huge penalties for companies and organizations that fail to adhere with the FCPA.

Furthermore, translating legal documents contributes to conflict resolution. Here’s a situation: when you need to go to court against another company, a customer, or any other party from a different country; then it’s essential that you have a legal translator who can translate all the necessary documents to help you get justice and win the case. It is also vital that your legal representative is able to communicate well with the other party and the judge (and jury in some countries) so that you can get a fair trial. Therefore, legal translation is crucial in order to avoid getting lost in translation, your honor. Pun intended.

Types of Legal Documents


Okay, so what actually belongs to the realm of legal translation? Legal translation involves translating legal documents such as affidavits, agreements, contracts, summons, warrants, and everything in between.

The need for legal translation is on the rise. In fact, in a globalized and digitalized world, the need for translation in general is on the rise. The job outlook for translators and interpreters is expected to grow 20% from 2019 to 2029, according to statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor. That’s faster than the average growth for all types of jobs in the US. If you need legal translation services, you can visit this site.

Here is a list of the common types of legal documents that need to be translated:

  • Business License
  • Copyrights and Patents
  • Electronic Discovery for Litigation
  • Financial Records with Foreign Banks
  • International Partnership Deals
  • International Fraud Claims
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Contracts
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Treaties and Agreements

What Makes Legal Translation Different From Other Types of Translation?


Translating legal documents is different from translating other types of documents. Some would even say that it is more difficult. This is because legal texts usually contain long and complex sentences that the average person would find difficult to decipher, much less translate. Legal language is very rigid, so a mistranslated term could change the meaning of the entire document. Or worse, cause legal consequences.

Moreover, the laws of each country are different from one other. This means that legal documents also deviate a lot. Occasionally, legal translators will encounter words with no equivalent to the target language. There will even be instances wherein translators will find multiple equivalents of a certain word.

The three main types of law systems are civil law, common law, and religious law systems. But even civil laws differ in every country. The law is naturally culture-based and there are times in which laws change according to the current culture of the society that those laws were initially created for. Some countries have legal systems that are heavily based on their religion such as Saudi Arabia. The laws of Saudi Arabia are based on the Shari’a (Islamic law) derived from the Qur’an (central religious text of Islam) and the Sunnah (the traditions of Islam). It is crucial that the legal translator is knowledgeable of the nuances of these different law systems and remains informed of any recent changes to the laws. It’s quite possible that the law when they started translating the document could be different from when they already finished it.