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How to Build Legal Translation into Your Business Effectively and Economically

— November 25, 2020

It’s good to keep an eye on how the translator responds when you message them. Responses should be timely. After all, if a translator is hard to communicate with, working with them could be less efficient.

If you’re conducting business in another region, legal translation is definitely something you have to budget for. However, it doesn’t have to be hard to work legal translation into your budget. Below we’ll cover tips on how to build legal translation into your overseas operations. It’s simply a matter of planning ahead, knowing the costs and knowing how to work with translation services to keep things flowing smoothly. 

Define Your Legal Translation Needs Beforehand 

Why is legal translation important? Legal translation makes sure your document stays the same from language to language in a way that does not violate the legality of the document or disrupt the language within it. A mistranslation could mean voided legal text, which is why accurate translation is so important. 

Your first step in achieving effective legal translation is to organize which legal documents you need translated. Legal translation handles many different types of documents, including:

  • Contracts
  • Licences 
  • Legal correspondence 
  • Patent information 
  • Wills
  • Trust
  • Witness statements 
  • Laws, legislation and case reports
  • Court briefs 
  • Depositions 
  • Immigration documents
  • Litigation documents

By deciding which documents you need translated, you can start the process in an organised manner and plan the cost of what you need translated into your budget.

How Much Does Legal Translation Cost? 

It’s also important to know how much the translation process costs so you can work on a realistic translation budget. 

Legal translation services often cost around $0.10 per word. However, rates can vary significantly based on your location, the languages you require and the expertise of the translator. Some legal translators may quote an hourly rate, rather than a per-word amount. 

Be sure to compare rates between services to ensure you’re getting the best translation services your budget will allow. 

How to Find the Best Translation Services

Keyboard with keys of many different countries’ flags; image by Imran Awan, via
Keyboard with keys of many different countries’ flags; image by Imran Awan, via

To make sure your legal translation is effective, source the best translation services possible. You can do this by assessing the background of the legal translator or translation agency using the following steps: 

  • Check that the website looks updated and highly professional
  • Ask to see past work the translator has done by reviewing work portfolios or checking testimonials and references 
  • Check the translator’s educational background or see if they’ve joined professional organisations: often, translators may have undertaken a degree in the foreign language they translate 
  • Look at online reviews for the service: you can check sites like ConsumerAffairs and the Better Business Bureau, along with other consumer groups that give unbiased reviews 

Legal translation has a number of professional best practices that go along with it, such as knowing legal terms and the proper way to prepare a legal document. There are also various legal translation certification options. Ofer Tirosh, CEO of language service provider Tomedes advises that these often vary by location, so you should investigate who certifies translators and translations in your area. It might be an accreditation authority or a professional organisation. Often these certifications require that the translator undergo some sort of training prior to sitting for the certification exam. Between the testing requirements and the testing itself, these are good ways to tell if a translator is educated and skilled in legal translation and if the agency that you are using is a reputable one that you can depend on as one of the best translation services for delivering accurate translations and excellent customer service.

Why It’s Essential to Communicate Well with Legal Translation Services 

If the communication process is not smooth, you can end up having to commit extra time to the task of translation. A survey of 400 companies found that the average loss per company from poor communication was $62.4 million per year. 

Overall costs from poor communication reached $37 billion total in 2018, highlighting the importance of clarity, respect and understanding. 

How do you translate a legal text? If you’re going to be working with a translation service, it can help to understand the overall process of translating a legal document:

  • The translation service might take instructions covering the tone or message that should stay in the translation 
  • The translator might feel out the document by reading a part of it and making notes on research requirement, tone or terms
  • The translator then translates the text line-by-line, often using software to aid them
  • The translator compares the old document to the new one to make sure the core message has stayed the same
  • After taking a break, the translator proofs the document to make sure everything looks good in the new language 

Of course, this is just an example process. It could change based on working with a large agency, an individual translator, multiple languages, multiple documents and more. 

It’s good to keep an eye on how the translator responds when you message them. Responses should be timely. After all, if a translator is hard to communicate with, working with them could be less efficient. Communication problems are a warning sign that they might misunderstand instructions about the document, not respond to feedback or even miss deadlines. 

You can find local legal translation services by looking online. Search for relevant keywords to find someone in your area, like translation services in London, legal translation services London or translation agencies near me. You might also search legal translation services by language terms, such as Spanish legal translation, Chinese legal translation or legal translation from English to Chinese. The more specific you are, the greater your chance of finding the perfect translation service. 

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