Legal Translation: how to meet demanding turnover times?



How to meet demanding turnover times?

You need a contract to be signed on Monday, or a procedural document to be submitted to the court on Thursday, and you have just learned that everything needs to be translated.

First, consider whether you really have to translate everything before requesting a quote from your favourite translation agency. The fewer documents, annexes and pages there are, the faster the translators' work will be. [see Keeping Legal Translation Costs Down]

A document's format can also impact translation deadlines: if you have the same document in Word and PDF, send the Word version to avoid additional PDF formatting time and costs.

Second, leverage technology.

Translation memories

If you have worked with the same translation agency for several years, it likely has a database with the translations you requested. See if it is possible to reuse sentences, paragraphs or clauses identical between documents to speed up the process without compromising quality.

Artificial intelligence, a.k.a. machine translation

Talk to your translation agency to see if they can use a paid machine translation solution that is guaranteed not to retain any information in your appeal or pleading. In this way, 55% of the work has already been done. Other translators will take care of the remaining 45% to meet the deadline. It is not a miracle solution since the machine produces a text which is not as fluid and natural as the human brain of specialized professional translators (thus requiring post-editing by a human linguist). Still, it can be a proper tool under truly urgent circumstances.


Translation "for yesterday"? Stay one step ahead


A single translator is unlikely to translate what took you three weeks to write in just three days. However, creating glossaries and style guides in advance can help boost the translator team's productivity, whether it has three people or ten.

Glossaries – How do you want this term to be translated?

Ask the translation agency to create and validate glossaries for each area of specialization at your company. This way, translators will not waste time searching for the correct translation of specific concepts in each document in times of urgency. They can follow the glossary approved by you.

Another advantage of using a glossary is ensuring consistency and clarity in the translated documents by providing that individual translators do not choose different terms for the same concept.

Take a look at the various possibilities for the following terms.

     EN            FR         ES             PT          IT



Representante legal


avocat, procureur 

Jurista, abogado, letrado Advogado, jurista giurista
Barrister Avocat, procureur procurador Advogado,
Solicitor  Avocat abogado Advogado, procurador avvocato
Counsel  Avocat-conseil, conseiller juridique Defensor, consejero jurídico Advogado de defesa,
consultor jurídico
Consigliere giuridico, difensore


Among these various possibilities, translators will have to choose a single option. To make this decision, a certain amount of time must be dedicated to research, time which could have been spent translating. Along these lines, if the documents have been distributed among several translators, the other translation team members may make different choices. The various documents will have inconsistencies in such cases, which may confuse readers. However, if you clarify how you prefer to handle each term, all translators can follow these instructions to work faster and more consistently.

Style guide – how do you want this to be written?

Using the same rationale, ask the translation agency to prepare a style guide specifying the right way to transpose/communicate the specific details of your documents. Validate this document with your preferences to serve as a standard in translating your texts.

A style guide can cover many different aspects, such as ways to handle people or the format of dates and numbers. It can also be used, for example, to indicate your preference for plain language over the usual formalities of legal texts. In this way, you can provide guidance on more formal terms to be avoided and their preferred equivalents. Take a look at these examples in English.

Avoid Preferred                           

forthwith, thereafter

whilst while

in lieu of

instead of

in the matter of


In the view of the above

For the purpose of To


These two tools will help to guide and standardize the work of the translator team. Therefore, the final puzzle will be entirely consistent when you combine all the pieces.

This way, you can ensure the best quality in your translated documents, even under tight deadlines.

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