The Qualities of a Legal Translator

Legal translation covers all human translation projects involving the legal field. Because this is a highly technical and difficult type of work to tackle that requires both legal expertise and complete mastery of two or more languages in order to strike a balance between accuracy (a very essential attribute in a profession where contracts are regularly combed for loopholes and technicalities via reinterpretation of the words used) and comprehensibility of the end product. Also, regardless of whether you're an agent in a professional translation firm or a freelance translation service expert, legal translation is considered by every seasoned or inexperienced translator to be one of the most challenging types of assignment in existence. To be able to qualify as a professional translation expert of legal documents, an agent must possess qualities such as terminological precision and creativeness. Scope of Duties A competent to excellent translation service worker must always be on his toes in order to deal with problems pertaining to the accurateness of legalese and its system-bound nature. Even though the sheer complexity of this particular genre of human translation has made it one of the most difficult areas of translation study, many translators who work on this field of expertise consider their involvement as a badge of honor in and of itself. Only the best of the best translators can survive this labor-intensive venture. Moreover, a legal translator is also required to know the differences between civil and common law systems in order to avoid any potential problems and mix-ups rooting from these two contrasting categories. To be sure, a good legal translator is required to attain mastery in legal jargons so that he could express the main idea of a contract or statute in as few words as possible. Getting the context lost in translation is not an option for these hard workers who are specialists of two or more languages as well as legal terminology. Key Areas of Competence Even an average and decently competent translator will find legal translation mind-bogglingly difficult, but the post-globalization world and the recent spate in international trade thanks to innovations such as the Internet has enhanced the demand for this craft, so despite its grueling hardness, its too lucrative a front to be ignored.  Sound knowledge of a country or two's legal system is definitely a must in order to avoid the potential for lawsuits and legal expenditures. Although bilingual law dictionaries can help immensely, the foremost issue that a legal translator must address is precise communication of rights and duties for individuals from the source text to the translated piece; everything else starts from there. Afterwards, legal translators must seek competence in three key areas—legal writing style, specific terminology, and comparative law—in order to succeed in all their translation endeavors with nary a court case or complaint pending. Last but not least, a translator will probably see the following field of terms most often when doing his demanding-yet-rewarding line of work: Corporations law, criminal law, property law, tax law, maritime law, contract law, and international law.