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Graduate Diploma

Legal Translation


Sabrina Badra


Government of Canada

Career SpotlightLegal Translation

At the crossroads of translation and law, legal translation in Canada can be an exciting and tremendously rewarding career path.

Like all translators, legal translators must have a thorough command of their chosen language pairs to be able to convert a legal document drafted in a source language into an accurate equivalent in a target language. But they must also have an in-depth knowledge of the respective legal concepts and conventions to ensure the final product meets the context-specific needs of its intended audience.

This is especially true in Canada, where there are not only two official languages, but also two justice systems (common law and civil law), which operate in both English and French. In this context, access to high-quality legal translation is essential to advancing social justice and serving the public interest.

Industry analysts (Prairie Research Associates, 2016) predict a growing demand for legal translators in certain key sectors and a major shortage of qualified professionals on the horizon as their baby boomer predecessors retire from the workplace. Add to this the fact that the number of legislative documents to be translated in Canada has increased over the past 30 years, especially at the provincial level, and it’s clear that opportunities in legal translation are growing fast. The massive impact of COVID-19 has only added to the need for expert legal translators as the world around us transforms and new laws, judgments and decisions come forth.

Quick Facts

Projected job growth in Canada for translators, terminologists and interpreters in all fields between 2018 and 2028:


Percentage of language service providers that identify legal translation as an expanding area of expertise:


Career Prospects

  • Jurilinguist
  • Lawyer-linguist
  • Lawyer-reviser
  • Legal language consultant
  • Legal reviser
  • Legal terminologist
  • Legal translator
  • Plain language specialist
  • Specialized reviser
  • Specialized translator

Potential Employers

  • Accounting firms
  • Banks
  • Bar associations
  • Courts and tribunals
  • Government departments / agencies (federal, provincial / territorial)
  • Law firms
  • Legal research centres and institutes
  • Legislative bodies
  • Private companies
  • Securities regulators
  • Self-employed/consultant
  • Translation agencies

Graduate DiplomaLegal Translation










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The only program of its kind in North America, McGill’s new online Graduate Diploma in Legal Translation is designed to provide aspiring and working professionals in the legal, business and translation communities from coast to coast with specialized training to enrich their current portfolio and fast-track their career.

Created with funding from Justice Canada’s Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund and support from the McGill Faculty of Law and the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law for the experiential learning component, this leading-edge program aims to help you position yourself for rewarding private and public-sector opportunities and meet the strong and growing demand for professionally trained legal translators and jurilinguists.

This online program can be completed in as little as 2 years (6 continuous academic semesters) or stretched out over a longer period (maximum 4 years). Fall and winter entrance options are offered.

Key Features

Cultivate the diligence and professionalism to set yourself apart in this important field.

Hone your skills in legal translation and communication, revising, writing and co-writing.

Engage with leading-edge translation, terminological search and terminology management tools throughout the curriculum.

Acquire transferable, work-integrated experience through two practical or applied research projects with hand-picked partners.

Benefit from the knowledge and experience of highly respected practitioners and scholar-practitioners.

Learn online from anywhere.

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Live Online Program Benefits

The online delivery format of the Graduate Diploma in Legal Translation combines live classes, timed assignments and self-paced, instructor-led activities with a focus on student engagement and problem-based learning.

  • Learn from top-notch practitioners and scholar-practitioners, whose sought-after insight and expertise would be difficult to access in a non-online setting.
  • Interact with your instructor and receive individualized guidance.
  • Engage with your peers as part of a vibrant learning community: exchange perspectives and learn from one another's diverse professional experiences and backgrounds.

Learning Outcomes

Succeeding as a legal translator requires competencies that go well beyond subject matter expertise and language skills in both the source and the target language. These include the following (adapted from Prieto Ramos, 2011):

  1. Knowledge of Canadian bijuralism, branches of law, history and hierarchy of sources of law, and equivalence between legal concepts and structures in Canada’s legal traditions
  2. Knowledge of legal linguistics and the features of legal discourse in the source and target languages
  3. Use of specialized sources and state-of-the-art language technologies for research and terminology management
  4. Interaction with clients and other professionals and adherence to codes of ethics
  5. Methodological approach: Contextualization of the translation brief, translation problem identification, implementation of translation procedures and strategies, quality control, and overall translation process management


Required Courses (16.5 credits)

  • Principles of Jurilinguistics
    (3 credits)
  • Computer-Aided Translation and Terminology
    (3 credits)
  • Legal Translation: General
    (3 credits)
  • Glottopolitics and Public Institutions
    (1.5 credits)
Translation practical and/or applied research projects (6 credits)

ComplementaryCourses (13.5 credits)

Legal Translation (EN>FR or FR>EN) (6 credits)

  • Judgments (2 credits)
  • Contracts (2 credits)
  • Statutes and Regulations
    (2 credits)

Electives (7.5 credits)

  • Examples: Legal Translation: Securities Law, (Co)Writing Techniques for Legal Drafters, Leadership and Governance in Public Organizations

See program brochure for full list.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must have an undergraduate or graduate degree, or its equivalent, in translation, law or a related discipline for which faculty approval rests with the School of Continuing Studies. A minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.0 out of 4.0 is required. In addition, applicants must pass a written entrance examination in French and English.

Register as an Independent Student

Members of the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec (OTTIAQ) and suitably qualified students wishing to take only certain courses and not wishing to be admitted to the Graduate Diploma in Legal Translation may register as an independent student, outside the program. Independent students are encouraged to apply to the program before completing two courses.

Entrance Exam

As one of the steps for potential admission to the program, applicants must complete and successfully pass an entrance examination. The exam tests participants’ preparedness for their studies in English and French.  OTTIAQ members and suitably qualified students are exempt from the entrance exam.

Why Enrol?

Enjoy the benefits of a dynamic, specially designed online program from the comfort of your home, workplace or community

Learn from world-class practitioners and scholar-practitioners, whose focus on transmitting their expertise bridges the gap between higher education and the workplace.

Expand your professional network and apply acquired competencies through extensive practical or applied research projects.

Discover or deepen your knowledge of the latest translation techniques and technologies.

Take advantage of a flexible, part-time program that can be completed in as quickly as two years without interrupting your current job.

Get the full program brochure

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