Translations for the legal industry – how to assure accuracy within budget

Legal translations leave no margin for error. Trust is a precious commodity and speaking the same language as your customers is a critical element to gaining and keeping that trust.

Clients need information and advice in their language, and it is imperative that legal material remains faithful to the source, and that the integrity as well as the legal language is maintained at all times. This may seem like a costly request, and a challenge for the legal industry, but through the use of Translation Memory (TM) – the cost of translation can be reduced whilst consistency and accuracy is maintained.

What is Translation Memory?

A Translation Memory (TM) is a type of database containing linguistic entries. It consists of segments of text, usually sentences, in a source language, and corresponding translations into a given target language. New files for translation can be analysed for matches against the TM in order to take advantage of previously translated content.

Benefits of Translation Memory in legal translation

TM’s are especially useful for translations in the legal industry where similar content and documents will need to be translated frequently, such as immigration documents. If certain terms and phrases have been translated before, these translated segments are stored within the Translation Memory. Discounts will apply on previously translated content, as the linguist does not need to start translating the job from scratch.

Consistency is also improved as new content being entered into the TM will be checked and compared to entries already stored in the TM. Linguists can be sure to use the same phrases and terminology as previously translated material, meaning that newly translated documentation will be consistent with the client’s brand and messaging.

As well as a TM having the ability to reduce costs and improve consistency, the use of a TM will result in faster translation turnaround times. The more content that is translated, the larger the database becomes, therefore there may be less content to translate from scratch in future documents. This is particularly useful in the legal industry where quite often, documents need to be translated within a tight deadline.

The final content in each translation will always be proofread and edited by a translator experienced in the legal industry, but the use of a TM means that this can be done at a fraction of the cost.


Glossaries are another tool that will help the legal industry to provide consistent translations. A translation glossary is a list of terms relating to a specific subject, text or dialect with the agreed corresponding translation. Translation glossaries are always approved by the client, so only approved terminology is used. Glossaries are ideal for the likes of legal tenders, and other in-depth texts that require regular repetition of certain words and phrases.

Style Guides

A style guide is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents for a specific industry, client or project. It can include country-specific orthographic rules, regulatory information, linguistic or stylistic preferences and formatting guidelines. A style guide is designed to help maintain adherence to the client’s product brands and in-house style so that messages are consistent across all countries.

The use of a Translation Memory (TM) in conjunction with a glossary and style guide helps us to achieve a high level of quality whilst saving the client time and costs.

We would recommend that TMs, glossaries and style guides are set up as part of the initial implementation phase. It is also important that all elements are reviewed by the client on a regular basis to ensure they are up-to-date.

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