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How to become a legal EN/ES > FR translator?
Thread poster: Nathalie White

Nathalie White  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 04:12
English to French
+ ...
Apr 9, 2008

Hi everyone,

First of all, all my apologies if this question has already been asked on the boards. I have been searching on Proz for the relevant answer but could not find it.

I am a French native translating from English/Spanish into French. I would like to specialise in the next few years in Legal. Therefore, my question is:

How do I become a legal translator in these language pairs (or from Spanish to French at least, that would be a start).

Are there any online or distance learning courses out there in EN>FR or ES>FR legal translation?

Thank you for your help,

Again, sorry if the question has already been posted. In that case, I would very much appreciate if ye could redirect me to the appropriate post.

NW


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
How to become a legal EN/ES > FR translator Apr 9, 2008

With great difficulty, if you want to do it by Distance Learning.

I tried about a year or two ago in relation to Health and there was nothing - I even contacted the ITI and CIoL.

However,

Take a look here (the site does date from 2006) though:

http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:kKNCdiKYsF4J:www.traduction-cs.com/liens/article-distance.html%20distance%20learning%20English%20French%20legal%20translation&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk&client=firefox-a

You could contact the ITI/CIoL though to see if there is a distance learning course now.

Liz

p.s. I meant to say that when I contacted the two organisations above, they were not directly helpful at all and merely referred me to their website!!

[Edited at 2008-04-09 16:08]


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
I know of one Apr 9, 2008

Sampere Estudio Internacional, based in Madrid runs a distance-learning French to Spanish legal translation course, which may be benefit to you. It doesn't do into French though. I trained in legal translation in reverse pairs and I would recommend it as you receive all the original documentation in your own language, so you can reuse it in your own translations.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
City University (London) Apr 9, 2008

http://www.city.ac.uk/languages/courses/legal_translation.html

English into French is one of the available options, subject to sufficient enrolments.

It is a distance learning course, with some compulsory attendance of lectures (4 days) for each module. If you don't want to commit to a full MA, you can enrol for individual modules.

I attended a two-day course on contracts there last week for practising legal translators and was pleased with the standard of lecturing and the overall organisation of the course.

Hope this helps
Debs

[Edited at 2008-04-09 21:53]


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Did you learn anything? Apr 10, 2008

Dear Debs,

Besides being pleased with the standard, did you actually learn anything, was there anything they could have taught you? Is the course run by linguists or lawyers? I can tell when someone has a degree in law because when talking about law they talk like a legal textbook. Do they make comparisons with civil law systems or do they just tell you about English law? I'm not sure how clearly stated my questions are, any answer will do!


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Nathalie White  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 04:12
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all... Apr 10, 2008

...for your help, I will check these links out immediately!
NatW


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
My experience Apr 10, 2008

Tatty wrote:

Dear Debs,

Besides being pleased with the standard, did you actually learn anything, was there anything they could have taught you? Is the course run by linguists or lawyers? I can tell when someone has a degree in law because when talking about law they talk like a legal textbook. Do they make comparisons with civil law systems or do they just tell you about English law? I'm not sure how clearly stated my questions are, any answer will do!


Hi there,

I actually learnt a lot - being a lawyer doesn't make me a "know-it-all"

Seriously, although the legal side of the course was really a type of refresher course for me, it's been 16 years since I graduated in law and that was in South Africa in any event. I practised for just over a decade, but it's good to have a bird's eye view of the theory again.

Whilst the SA and English legal systems are very similar in most areas, there are differences and so it was good to pick up on those. For instance, with regard to terminology, we would always refer in SA to a "resolutive condition", whilst "condition subsequent" is the preferred term in England. A lawyer should be able to understand both with no problem, but it's good to have your attention drawn to these things, it keeps you on your toes.

Likewise the concept of consideration in English contract law differs somewhat from the position in SA. It's good to understand the different theory behind that for when you're translating statements of case or judgments. If you understand the subject matter of something, the words follow far easier.

The course is run by lawyers and linguists and that's what makes it unique and, in my view, very worthwhile. The legal lectures were given by a practising lawyer, who holds English and German legal qualifications and is also a German to English translator, so he was ready and able to draw comparisons between the English (common law) system and the civil system in general, particularly that of Germany. He will also be giving some of the lectures on the MA.

He went to a lot of trouble with his presentation and handouts and whilst he inevitably made references to case law, he used them as practical examples to drive the message home and was careful not to speak over the heads of those who didn't have a degree in law. He also didn't overly "dumb down" the lectures either, and so, as a lawyer, I certainly wasn't bored.

The course was on the law of contract in England and Wales, but for the last two hours of each day we split up into our language pairs and had a workshop on contracts presented by a linguist. Again, I was very satisfied as the linguist had studied some law modules and had practical experience from working in a notary's office. He was clearly in his element when it came to legal texts and was able to discuss the situation in Spain in many areas. He will also be giving the Spanish workshops on the MA.

I had to follow the Spanish to English workshop as neither Dutch nor Portuguese were offered, but the lecturer was already aware of the fact, really made me feel at ease and didn't mind me drawing parallels to Portuguese.

I didn't have too many problems with the Spanish contracts, as it's close enough to Portuguese in that respect. In any event, it was a challenge and what you pick up translating into English in terms of legal translating technique is something you can apply to any source language.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask anything else.
Debs

[Edited at 2008-04-10 15:47]


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
It sounds great! Apr 10, 2008

It is about time England came up with an MA like this. I have noticed that France now offers a 2 year long master's in legal translating to be taken after the licence replacing the old maitrise and DESS structure, and it would seem that England is following suit, egged on no doubt by the dictates of the Bologna agreement.

I had no clue what a resolutive condition was!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
It's the opposite of .... Apr 10, 2008

Tatty wrote:

I had no clue what a resolutive condition was!


.... a suspensive condition (i.e. condition precedent)

Back to the course, I think it looks great too and it's currently the only one of its kind in the UK (and most of Europe).

I would do the MA in a shot if either Portuguese or Dutch were offered, but I'd have to do it with Spanish as my translating option - French, German and Italian are out the question for me - so a difficult decision lies ahead.

Obviously I've got a headstart on the legal side of it, but doing the whole translation side from Spanish is a quite daunting thought (for me).

Still, as they say, you sink or swim when thrown in the deep end. It's not as if I'd be letting myself loose on a unsuspecting public, it's ultimately my money to waste if I don't cut it at the end of the day.

The closing date for applications is 30 April, if anyone is interested.


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Surely you don't need it... Apr 11, 2008

Suspensive condition I would have associated much more readily.

Surely you don't need to do the course. During my translating degee I studied different modules from the Spanish and French law degrees but the rest I just look up in the codes and I can usually work out the equivalent, really without any problem. The good thing about my English law degree, which I haven't finished yet, is that because of the prevalence of Community law reference is invariably made to civil law systems, with parallels being drawn and differences being pointed out - all very useful for the translator too.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
You're right Apr 14, 2008

You're quite right, I don't "need" it.

I can quite happily go on as I am - in fact, in the short term I'm going to lose a lot of money if I decide to do the course - but there's always something to be gained from doing it and that, to me, is worth more than the dip in income I'll have to endure with being away from the office so often.

It doesn't matter how highly qualified or experienced you already are - if you don't go on or do courses, exchange ideas, continually read in your field etc, you'll stagnate.

This is just my particular way of tackling that because its structured. If I stay at the office, even with the best intentions in the world of working on my CPD (continuing professional development), I will inevitably end up working for a client instead. This way, I can't. I have to spend time in class.

I enjoy studying and research, always have, and the trips to London for class will be a welcome change of pace from how I work now.

It will also open up further opportunities for me on the lecturing front and help with a project I'm working on with lawyers here in Portugal.

Good luck with your English law degree.
Debs


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