As a translator, one of the most challenging and rewarding industries to be a part of is international law. Whether you are a member of an international law firm seeking the services of a professional translator, or a translator interested in starting a career in this exciting field, it will help to understand the unique qualities, abilities, and experience required by professional linguists who work in international law.
What the Job Entails
While the specific duties of a legal translator will vary somewhat depending on the needs of the firm or organization employing the translator, those tasks will undoubtedly include the translation of documents that are often lengthy, complex, and full of specialized legal terminology. The accuracy of translations within the legal field is absolutely essential since individuals’ lives and well-being often hinge on these documents. That means that the translator must be fluent in the target language and possess a strong knowledge of legal concepts and terminology.
Skills and Qualities Needed by a Legal Translator
A professional legal translator needs more than an understanding of the law and fluency in certain languages. He or she must also understand the legal system of the countries involved. And it should go without saying that a legal translator must be highly ethical and have a full appreciation of the confidentiality and import of the documents he or she is translating.
That adds up to an impressive list of skills, abilities and personal traits – all of which are necessary in a good legal translator. These prerequisites go far beyond those required by linguists in other fields. If you are a translator interested in entering the legal field, you should be prepared to gain the experience necessary before taking on assignments. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways: earn a legal degree from an accredited university; work in a legal firm for an adequate period of time prior to beginning your career as a legal translator; study topics such as criminal law, international law, and/or immigration law on your own; and/or work in some capacity for the court system. Remember that you’ll need to not only be acquainted with the legal field in general, but in particular the legal system of the country that will be the recipient of your translated documents. Your fluency in the language(s) involved should be beyond question; your accuracy should be flawless; and you should be able to complete your translations within what are often extremely short timeframes.
Invest the Time Needed to Succeed
It’s easy to understand why law firms, governments, corporations and other organizations that employ international legal translators hire only the best in the field. For a translator, that means you’ll need to commit very early on to investing the time required for you to achieve your goal. Becoming a professional, sought-after international law translator often takes many years. But the rewards are worth it. You’ll be working on a day-to-day basis with a talented and skilled group of professionals, within one of the most challenging arenas available to linguists.
Not only does it take time to become an international legal translator; it takes time to find one as well. If you are seeking the services of a professional translator with experience in international law, you should be prepared to find an individual with the background, skills and qualities we have outlined above. Often, the best way to find the right linguist for your professional needs is by contacting a reputable translation company. They will be able to match your needs with the best translator available – one who has already gained the experience necessary to provide the highest quality legal translations.