Legal Translation

Legal Translation


Law is a part of culture, hence legal translation is mostly “documentary” (secondary text to help understanding). Though the translation does not replace the original text with its legal status, it should be transparent enough to produce the same legal effects in practice. The legal translator’s work is based on hermeneutics, since one needs to understand the text without necessarily being a jurist. The source text offers the input on the basis of which a new independent text is created in the target language taking into account mainly the needs of the users of translated legal documents. Written legal documents are characterized by a specific style and rhetorical structure to prevent fraud, additions, omissions or alterations in legal texts. These characteristics differ across languages. This workshop aims to present the major principles of legal translation, highlighting the common features of the language of law and the function of legal documents, and exposing the related problems and challenges. Participants are introduced to the role and functions of translation in the various forms of legal texts, and are familiarized with the principles, techniques and constraints of legal translation.


The workshop is divided into four modules:

Part 1: Introduction to Legal Translation

· Language of law

· Structure of the legislative sentence in English and Arabic

· Legal terminology

Part 2: Contracts

· Translating contracts (construction projects, employment … etc.)

Part 3: Criminal Law

· Translating criminal law documents (legislation, judgments… etc.)

Part 4: International Law

· Translating international law documents (resolutions, agreements, patents ….)


This workshop keeps theory to a strict minimum and focuses on the practical aspects, as it provides participants with the strategies and techniques used by professional legal translators to overcome the challenges encountered during the translation process:

  • Practice on authentic legal documents that legal translator deals with in day-to day practice.
  • Find the best solution rather than the final cut-and-dried solution, keeping the same thematic structure of the source text;
  • Focus on translating as text-production (textuality test).
  • Practicing participants are invited to bring in their own experience as to the dilemmas they have encountered in their careers.

Learning Objectives

1. Develop participants’ knowledge of legal terms and their technical definitions;

2. Upgrade participants’ understanding and analytical skills of legal texts (English and Arabic);

3. Raise awareness to the major problems encountered in legal translation;

4. Build capacity to develop the translation strategies professional translators adopt in solving such problems

Learning Outcomes

1- Acquire the conceptual knowledge about legal translation as a professional practice, in order to recognize and apply the strategies to solve translation problems and produce idiomatic target legal texts in Arabic and English at the lexical, phrasal, sentential and textual levels, in line with the relevant quality standards (ISO 17100);

2- Apply the relevant strategies to solve translation problems relating to Commercial Law, Criminal Law and International Law;

3- Acquire and apply the international standards of revision to check the quality of translated legal texts;

4- Develop awareness to the social responsibility of translators in addressing legal translation ethical problems

Target Participants

This Workshop is recommended for translation students, new entrants to the profession and established practitioners of legal translation.

Register for this workshop


About the Leader/Instructor

Dr. Ahmed Alaoui

Dr. Ahmed Alaoui is an Associate Professor at the Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies. From December 2013 to August 2017, he served as the Head of Translation and Training Center at the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII). His research work focuses on translation pedagogy (translator-training) and theory-practice interface. His latest book, Translation: A Practical Guide for English-Arabic Translators, is the fruit of more than 20 years of teaching translation at the graduate and postgraduate levels. He was also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, and University of Nantes, France.  

Dr. Alaoui is also a confirmed professional translator, certified by the United Nations (Roster) and the Ministry of Justice of the Kingdom of Morocco. He has been leading workshops on Legal Translation as well as Revision and Quality Assurance for more than 25 years. A sample of his research work can be found here