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Law degree but no translation jobs
Thread poster: Pamela Kennedy Sztyblewski

Pamela Kennedy Sztyblewski
English to French
+ ...
Apr 14

What else does it TAKE to get law translating work? I've experienced the same thing back when I was trying to get legal transcription work. I have the terminology knowledge, people. It's like my law degree is being ignored by the whole world in everything law-related. I think I should try to get it repossessed or get my money back for it!

 

The Misha
Local time: 09:18
Russian to English
+ ...
Your law degree has nothing to do with it. Your business skills do. Apr 14

Maybe you are not looking in the right places. Or talking to the right people. Or trying hard enough. Or maybe it simply takes time to build a reliable practice (ahem, it actually does). Who knows? It's not like your law degree came with a money back guarantee - or did it? Where I live, there are 40K lawyers, and most of them barely make ends meet.

Disclaimer: I do not have a law degree. Regardless, I mostly do "law translating work," and have been (well, mostly) for the past 30+ years. During that time, I have come across quite a few properly degreed lawyers that did not seem to know the first thing about the specific subject matter they were translating. Nor could they write palatable English, not even if their lives depended on it. So you see, it all depends. The devil, as we all know, is in the details.

I say keep trying. If you are indeed any good, you'll get there. Eventually.

Oh, and just out of curiosity, with all those fancy Ivy League degrees you list in your profile, why do you even want to do translation work?

P.S. For your own sake, I hope "I have the terminology knowledge, people" is not part of your pitch to prospective clients.

[Edited at 2018-04-14 16:53 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-04-14 16:56 GMT]


 

Nina Esser
Germany
Local time: 15:18
Member (2017)
English to German
Fully agree with The Misha Apr 14

If the CV on your profile is what you send out to potential clients, I must say I'm not surprised you haven't yet got any legal translation work. Although I KNOW you have a law degree, I almost overlooked the mention of it in your CV!

Also (at least as an agency PM) I don't "like" to see two target languages in your profile, without any explanation whatsoever. If I were looking for a translator into English, the fact that you mention French as your native language would put me off, and if I were looking for a translator into French I'd be startled not to see anything "French" in your CV at all (oh, wait, you did the law degree at a French uni, right? But that's just one line in a two-page CV. And French is only third in your list of languages...).


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:18
French to English
Getting the work you want Apr 14

It is not easy making sure you get regular work in a field or fields you wish. More than one factor is needed. Ability, marketing skills, patience and a bit of luck too. Luck often passes by; the clever thing is being able to spot it and seize the opportunity.
These are things that help. Knowing what you're good at is essential but humility helps too. There is always someone better, faster, cheaper, and sometimes all three.

Then there are obstacles to selling oneself. You list a number of languages and translate both ways. You list your qualifications but no professional field experience is stated. If you have some, it would be interesting to see that on your CV. The extracts you post of your work are very long. A potential client will look through a number of CVs quite quickly. You need to have a few important things that the potential client will notice immediately. Then he/she will look at some of the detail. You profile page here is long and detailed and I don't find it easy to read. I cannot see what your main strengths are and what experience you have. It might be a good idea to indicate the major qualifications and experience and make the client curious to find out more.

Last, but not least, you say you have a law degree but cannot get translation jobs. The law degree is not visible ad I did not note any particular legal experience. If you have some, you should show it.


 

Morano El-Kholy  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 15:18
Member (2011)
English to Arabic
+ ...
What about editing your Legal specialization under your title in your profile? Apr 14

Dear Pamela,

You mentioned that you want to specialize and to work in the Legal Field...... Wonderful, but I see from your profile that you have not even mentioned this very important matter in your title under your name. You only said:

Pamela Kennedy Sztyblewski
Science and Computer specialist, 100wpm


You need to highlight this Legal Field and to magnify it in your profile starting from under your title name.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 07:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Editing your profile Apr 15

I agree with Morano. I would advise you to do some serious editing of both your profile and your CV. They are still written in academic format, rather than as a way to market yourself as a translator. Eliminate all mention of how many words per minute you can type and all the other information that has nothing to do with either law or translation. Your university degrees should be listed in the section at the top under 'credentials', and if you really want to specialize in legal translation, mention only those degrees and forget about the rest. Memberships (only those that are relevant to law or translation), software, etc. also have special entries in the top section.

The 'blank' part of your profile can then be a little bit more personal. How did you learn your native and target languages? How did you decide to study law, or what interests you most about it? Add whatever else you can think of that might interest a potential client about you. Then list your translation experience, including any language teaching experience but leaving out most of the experience in other fields, or list it briefly at the bottom. Organize it in the form of (bulleted) lists that are easy for a client to read through. Ideally, the whole text should not be much longer than one printed page.

In your CV you should do more or less the same but there you have a little more leeway to mention your credentials and experience in other fields. For safety's sake I would advise you not to put your CV online but send it only when a potential clients requests it.

Start participating in Kudoz and forums to get to know other translators and get them to know you. Approach legal firms in your home and target countries with your CV. Your languages are in high demand. There is really no reason why you could not be successful as a legal translator. I wish you luck!


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 14:18
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ditto! Apr 16

Tina Vonhof wrote:

I agree with Morano. I would advise you to do some serious editing of both your profile and your CV. They are still written in academic format, rather than as a way to market yourself as a translator. Eliminate all mention of how many words per minute you can type and all the other information that has nothing to do with either law or translation. Your university degrees should be listed in the section at the top under 'credentials', and if you really want to specialize in legal translation, mention only those degrees and forget about the rest. Memberships (only those that are relevant to law or translation), software, etc. also have special entries in the top section.

The 'blank' part of your profile can then be a little bit more personal. How did you learn your native and target languages? How did you decide to study law, or what interests you most about it? Add whatever else you can think of that might interest a potential client about you. Then list your translation experience, including any language teaching experience but leaving out most of the experience in other fields, or list it briefly at the bottom. Organize it in the form of (bulleted) lists that are easy for a client to read through. Ideally, the whole text should not be much longer than one printed page.

In your CV you should do more or less the same but there you have a little more leeway to mention your credentials and experience in other fields. For safety's sake I would advise you not to put your CV online but send it only when a potential clients requests it.

Start participating in Kudoz and forums to get to know other translators and get them to know you. Approach legal firms in your home and target countries with your CV. Your languages are in high demand. There is really no reason why you could not be successful as a legal translator. I wish you luck!


There is much more to translation than having a degree (or several degrees)! Some soft skills, like tact, courtesy, empathy, patience, reliability, self-discipline, etc. are as important as all the hard skills required for the job...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Dog eat dog in the translation market Apr 16

Pamela, I understand your exasperation.

Don't expect to get much help from other translators; they are your competitors.

Nevertheless I've seen some useful pointers here.

It's all about positioning yourself in the market so that potential clients see you and want you.

Want you more than anybody else.


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:18
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Correct your CV Apr 16

Among the other good advice received, your CV needs a few revisions. Some of the descriptions read as if copied from directly from job descriptions ("You will...", etc.).
Also, it's "sight translation" not "site translation". Accuracy is important!


 

Alistair Gainey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:18
Member (2009)
Russian to English
Sample translations Apr 16

I would change these if I were you. For example, the English version of the German article "Die Welt am Fädchen" is so bad that Google Translate could probably do just as well a job.

 

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:18
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Proz membership? Apr 17

At the risk of sounding like a publicist for Proz.com (which I am not), I wonder why you don't have a paid membership. Without one you will never get direct requests from outsourcers using this site, because when they do a search for a translator, the names of the paying members are at the top of the list (try it and see). After that, the list is ordered by Kudoz points.

While there are many translators here who do not need a paid membership, I have gotten most of my regular clients here. One reasonable-sized job covers the Proz membership fee.

PS - To add to what others have said about your profile: nobody cares how many words per minute you type! You are not applying for a job as a stenographer.



[Edited at 2018-04-17 11:47 GMT]


 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:18
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Translation samples Apr 17

Your into English translation samples appear to be Google Translated (Einstein is translated as "a stone" in one place and "Even the protagonists of string theory at that time their minds child was scary:" is nonsense). Sorry to be blunt, but if you can't do better than this translation is probably not the career for you.

 

IrinaN
United States
Local time: 08:18
English to Russian
+ ...
Sometimes a degree can play tricks on you Apr 17

I do not have an engineering degree, but for 25+ years I have been dealing with very tough technical subjects - orbital mechanics, navigation, power, thermal, or drilling and production etc. I could cry you a river about almost a decade of eyes bulging, fingers bleeding, falling 10 years behind on general reading while having almost exclusively specs, manuals and reference materials for the bedtime reading, and torturing every engineer who was unfortunate enough to cross my path with all kinds of weird questions:-). Today it's all in the past (at least on that scale), but at least 3 times over my career as an interpreter I received emergency calls to replace another interpreters who were engineers by education, not necessarily in the exact field, and actually worked as interpreters when they could get an assignment. They either couldn't convey their knowledge in the appropriate way, or worse, had a tendency to interfere and "teach" the parties how "it should be because they, being engineers themselves, know better".

No doubt, all three of them definitely possessed deeper knowledge of, say, math and physics fundamentals, but it was me who could deliver - ensure that the specialists fully understand each other without unnecessary injections and confusion. Of course, I was not entirely ignorant on the subject matter either. In other words, their engineering degrees will never put them ahead of me when those clients will be looking for an interpreter again.


 

liviu roth
United States
Local time: 09:18
Romanian to English
+ ...
International Human Rights Law - does not mean a "law degree" Apr 17

Pamela Kennedy Sztyblewski wrote:

What else does it TAKE to get law translating work? I've experienced the same thing back when I was trying to get legal transcription work. I have the terminology knowledge, people. It's like my law degree is being ignored by the whole world in everything law-related. I think I should try to get it repossessed or get my money back for it!



Besides all the pertinent facts presented by my experienced colleagues, I noticed that you posted in your CV that you are "FAMILIAR" with a number of languages. Well, from my experience of over 25 years as an interpreter/translator in the legal field, clients and agencies look for translators/interpreters who are knowledgeable in their specific field, not familiar. Also, potential clients may want to know a little more about you and for sure they will research. A site shows that you were born in Mexico, you state that you live in the US, but you also stated that you live in France. People don't want confusing information.

I hope that my 2 c input will help.

Lee


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:18
Member (2008)
French to English
Agree Apr 17

Rachel Waddington wrote:

Your into English translation samples appear to be Google Translated (Einstein is translated as "a stone" in one place and "Even the protagonists of string theory at that time their minds child was scary:" is nonsense). Sorry to be blunt, but if you can't do better than this translation is probably not the career for you.



I'm afraid I would have to agree. The into English translation samples are nonsense, and they are broadcasting a bad message. It would be advisable to take them down before they do more harm to your reputation than good.


 
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