Legal language is a language in its own right and if you don’t know your civil law from your common law, it’s an absolute minefield. As a legal translator, you have your work cut out because you need to navigate two languages and legal systems. It’s not for the faint-hearted but while this specialism may be high risk, it’s also high reward.
Legal translation is a risky business
Simply put, you wouldn’t go to a heart surgeon for brain surgery. Yes, a heart surgeon is a surgeon, but they don’t specialise in the part of your body in which you require treatment. They might understand the medical language, but they don’t understand the inner workings of the human brain. You wouldn’t risk your life, so you shouldn’t take risks when it comes to your words either.
The best advice I can give you to navigate two legal systems effectively is to be hyper-specialised. There is a lot to be said for niching down. When it comes to legal translation, you can never be too specialised because the narrower the specialisation, the better you’ll understand the legal system. The lawyer who drafted the contract or the will that you’re currently translating has specialised, so you should too! Otherwise, it’s like asking a tax lawyer to defend a suspected murderer and I think we can all agree, that’s not giving the defendant a fair trial.
Legal translation really is double trouble and that’s one of the ma