Meet David Swain

I’m David, a legal Spanish, Portuguese and French to English translator and editor. Learn more about my services:

Headshot of David Swain

about David swain

I’m a Spanish, Portuguese and French to English translator and editor. I have been providing translation and editing services since 2008, when I graduated from my Master’s in Translation and Professional Language Skills from the University of Bath, in the United Kingdom.

Since then, I have been drawn to the challenge posed by translating and, more recently, editing legal texts. For much of my career, the contracts, terms and conditions, claim forms, court judgments and other documents I have worked on have primarily been related to commercial law; in particular, I have worked on a large number of contracts for the financial and construction sectors. However, I have also translated or revised the legislation of several countries and worked regularly on amendments to European Union legislation.

In 2017, I passed the extremely competitive United Nations recruitment exams; fewer than 5% of the candidates passed. Since 2019, I have continued to build on that success, regularly doing short-term contracts for the United Nations Office at Geneva, where quality expectations are some of the most demanding in the world. As my work there mainly concerns aspects of criminal law relating to human rights, I have recently become increasingly interested and experienced in that area. Broadening my horizons in this way has been an enormously stimulating challenge. I also regularly work as an editor for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, where the tests I edit relate mainly to issues of economic development.

When not working in the public sector, I work with law firms, other companies, private individuals and translation agencies. With legal texts, any mistake could leave room for misinterpretation and can be extremely costly in terms of time, money and hard-won reputations. To ensure the requisite accuracy, you need a translator with the knowledge and expertise to grasp the full meaning of the text in its original language and the ability to express that meaning in flawless English.

On its own, excellent knowledge of the two languages involved is not enough to translate legal documents; an understanding of the differences between legal systems is also necessary. With over a decade’s experience of legal translation, I am very familiar with the major differences between the civil-law systems used in the French-, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, on the one hand, and the common-law systems of the English-speaking world, on the other. If I encounter a particularly difficult problem, my part-time role teaching at Bath University (started in 2018) gives me access to nearby Bristol University’s extensive law library for research purposes.

I diligently treat all client documents as confidential, whether or not I am bound by a specific non-disclosure agreement (NDA), and take stringent measures to prevent data losses and leaks.

My clients want clarity from their finished texts without the loss of any of the meaning or nuance contained in the original. While I strive to follow the principles of plain language in my writing, I always make sure that the full meaning of the original text is preserved. As a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, I am able to self-certify translations requested for official purposes by the UK authorities. You can verify my membership here.

Looking for a legal translator or copy editor? I can help.

I’m looking forward to learning more about your project. Please drop me a line at or submit a request through my contact form.