We all hear that the best way to make your way as a translator is to specialize. Translations aren’t often intended for a general audience—they are professional documents for professional consumption more often than not. By focusing your efforts on one, specific field, you learn subtleties and secrets of its communication style that you can’t learn from the dictionary.
I never thought I would prefer to specialize in legal translation (at least for French). My first forays into the genre were fraught with eye-crossing legalese and nonsensical word pairs that left me near to tears. However, often the most challenging subjects are the most satisfying. After tackling a course on the topic through NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, I began to look forward to such tasks. I learned how to approach the confuddling texts, and that my work process for such texts differs from my typical habits. Now that I have some basics in my translation toolkit, legal topics are . . . enjoyable!
I highly recommend you try your hand at legal translation. There is always a demand for it, so at the very least it is a good specialty for job security. It’s not something to tackle with only a general dictionary, though. Here are some of the best sites I’ve come across for improving or aiding your legal translations:
- Ken Adams’ blog on contract language. Most posts pick a word or phrase common to contracts and briefly discuss the merits (or demerits) of use, according to a veteran contract lawyer.
- Words to Deeds. A blog offering resources and ideas specifically for legal translators.
- TERMIUM Plus®, Canada’s terminology database. Search bilingual French-English dictionary by subject matter, including legal terms.
What are you favorite sites for legal translation? How do you keep improving within your specialty?