What is Legal Translation?

in Legal

As long as there have been language barriers between nations and cultures there has been a need for translation. While many conversations, discussions, edicts, narrative writings and more have been passed among cultures through loose translation there is one area of every nation and language that requires precise attention to detail and careful handling - legal translation

We think of legal matters as those dealing primarily with the courtroom, and while legal translation does have to do with the inner-workings of the courtroom and justice system it goes beyond these formal areas of law. Translation itself is involved in every facet of our everyday lives where legalities must be precisely translated to ensure the continuity of information in its original format.

The Technical Side of Legal Translation Services

While technical, this is still the grit of every culture and it's where skilled legal translation is often needed most. The technical aspect covers a variety of areas such as


  • Contracts
  • Settlements
  • Legislation
  • Corporate Bylaws
  • Tax Returns
  • Warranties
  • Passports
  • Wills


Each of these areas (as well as many others) often contain very precise wording. In order to maintain the integrity of the original document (and sometimes audio or video file) the contents must be translated precisely and accurately into the target text.

While all forms of legal translation require careful translation, technical documents are often the most complex. When these items are not translated properly it can lead to contractual disputes, lawsuits, legal issues, and so on.

Criminal and Civil Legal Translation Services

We live in a culturally diverse country, one that has legal affiliations with just about every other nation in the world. Not only must criminal and civil matters be translated for those involved here on American soil, but legal matters that cross international borders will also need to be translated so that the parties involved can handle each case appropriately. Criminal and civil legal translation can include (but is not limited to):


  • Court Transcripts
  • Depositions
  • Hearings
  • Interviews
  • Interrogations
  • 911 calls
  • Police Reports


Academic Legal Translation

The intricacies of legal systems are studied around the world and shared among cultures. Because of this, academic materials relating to all things legal are provided in a variety of languages. Common sources for legal academic translation include:


  • Articles
  • Manuscripts
  • Textbooks
  • Lectures
  • Dissertations
  • Seminars


Translation of Legal Dictations

Within the civil and criminal legal system, professionals must perform their tasks on a daily basis complete with documentation. This documentation, due to time constraints and the freedom of the hands, is often done through dictation. Not only must this audio (and sometimes video) content be transcribed but it may also need to be translated. This is most commonly seen with:


  • Attorneys
  • Law Enforcement Officials
  • Private Investigators
  • Medical Examiners (Medicolegal Translation)


As the cultural diversity within the United States continues to grow and America continues to be a melting pot, legal translation services will be necessary to ensure the continuity and integrity of the legal system - at home here the United States and other legal systems abroad.

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Jeff Noctis has 60 articles online and 3 fans

TransDual Forensics is a translation agency specializing in English and Spanish language translation. We provide services to law enforcement agencies, attorneys, security companies, and private individuals. Please visit our website for information about our Spanish legal translation services.

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What is Legal Translation?

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This article was published on 2011/01/22