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Usefulness of membership in German and British translator associations?
Thread poster: Albert Fischer (Dipl. Jur., LL.B., BDÜ)

Albert Fischer (Dipl. Jur., LL.B., BDÜ)  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
English to German
+ ...
Jan 23, 2010

Hello,

I translate legal documents DEEN, F-T. I have one main client in Germany, but I would like to convince other clients of the same caliber (i.e. translation providers who service law firms) to use me, particularly such from London, where I am located. I know there is a lot of competition, but I am really good at what I am doing (I hold German and UK law degrees).

Given my UK and German law degrees, I thought this should be a shoo-in but it's not necessarily the case. The market has dried up to an extent and freelancers are supposed to slash their rates. I am not willing to slash my rates as much as the average bidder on ProZ and I am sure there are still high-end legal translations to be carried out for which there are no effective CATs.

Do you think I should become a member of one of the British and/or one of the German associations such as ITI or BDUe? If so, which one? Is that helpful as to high-end translation providers? Moreover, does it generate business on its own through directories and advertisement possibilities?

Any advice is highly appreciated.

Regards,

Albert.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:00
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Dried up? Hardly. Jan 23, 2010

Albert, it really depends on what market subsegment you're dealing with and many other factors. Those who depended heavily on the automotive sector are having a rough time as well as some others. But most of the translators in my pair whom I know and can vouch for are as busy as ever. They might only be turning down twice as much as they can handle instead of five times as much, but they're still skimming the cream and doing fine, or if they have worked less recently, it's for reasons having nothing to do with "the market".

I have seen a lot of value from my BDÜ membership, so generally I would recommend that. I don't have direct experience with the ITI, but I have heard very good things from experienced translators whom I respect, so that appears to have value as well.

If you want to play the strongest hand with your legal background in Germany, however, then I would say attaining the status of a sworn translator for the courts and joining the BDÜ are two useful steps. Some federal states (such as Bavaria) will register you without a residence requirement and won't cancel your status if you move.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:00
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
ITI Jan 24, 2010

I would echo Kevin's comments (I often do) though I should point out that I am biased, as I am in the ITI.

The ITI maintains a searchable database of qualified members. Because you need to qualify for ITI membership, this enhances your credibility. The ITI also runs numerous specialist events and opportunities for social networking. Worth checking out their website to see what is on offer www .iti.org.uk

Meanwhile, in case you have not come across them, see:
http://www.templetranslations.com/legal-translation-in-new-york.htm
They also operate in London.


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Catriona Thomas
Local time: 14:00
German to English
Surely worth joining associations in both countries Jan 25, 2010

Like you, I am a specialized legal translator. Unlike you, I work out of Germany and have German qualifications as a translator. Having been a BDÜ member for many years, I recently joined the IoL in order to strengthen my ties to England again. I was glad to be admitted on the basis of my qualifications and welcome the opportunity to participate in training sessions in London some time in the near future. Incidentally, clients often find me via the BDÜ database. So it appears that dual membership would be beneficial. Like you, I am unwilling to slash my rates for highly qualified translation work.

Regards,
Catriona Thomas


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Albert Fischer (Dipl. Jur., LL.B., BDÜ)  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cheers Jan 25, 2010

Hello,

Thanks for posting.

Peter - 'temple' didn't want me and said I should come back when I have more experience...not sure if their non-lawyer translators with 'experience' are better suited but what can you do?

Catriona - what's the difference between the IoL and the ITI? I mean apart from the fact that the IoL seems to be easier to join? At least that's what I gather from reading another thread on here.

DO I NOT HAVE enough credibility by holding two law degrees? In my opinion acquiring those is more demanding than a degree in translations, no offence.

Anyway I am still deliberating joining ITI/ATA/BDUe, I need more 'credibility' it seems.

Regards,

Albert.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:00
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Blue Board Jan 25, 2010

Peter Linton wrote:

I would echo Kevin's comments (I often do) though I should point out that I am biased, as I am in the ITI.

The ITI maintains a searchable database of qualified members. Because you need to qualify for ITI membership, this enhances your credibility. The ITI also runs numerous specialist events and opportunities for social networking. Worth checking out their website to see what is on offer www .iti.org.uk

Meanwhile, in case you have not come across them, see:
http://www.templetranslations.com/legal-translation-in-new-york.htm
They also operate in London.




check the Blue Board first...

http://www.proz.com/blueboard/545


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Monika Elisabeth Sieger  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:00
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
ITI Jan 26, 2010

Hi Albert!
I am a freelance legal translator as well with both law degrees in England and Germany as well and having worked in the legal industry in both countries for some years.
I have translating experience of about 15 years and still I was not accepted as a legal translator to join the ITI!
They want you to have a degree in translation studies or language study of some kind. This is the same with the BDÜ!
But you could try to become a student member of the ITI if you start starting to study for a special diploma in legal translations at the City University in London. You even can obtain a MA degree.
Although I think that I have quite a good legal knowledge and translation experience I still gain a lot of this newly created postgraduate course! I will be finished in summer and have already started my dissertation and I will miss the fun we all had in the last two years.

[Edited at 2010-01-26 11:07 GMT]

I forgot to mention that I am still a student member of the ITI and it is very useful! Their courses are interesting and the magazine is very informative!

[Edited at 2010-01-26 11:27 GMT]

Oh dear, my spelling errors are bad today! I shouldn't work that much!
The course I mentioned is a really specialised one and the law lectures are not necessarily needed in most parts for lawyers with education in both legal systems. But honestly: how many are out there anyway?
On the other hand: you always need to learn new things and most of all: the translation techniques and theories are highly important. It is one thing to understand the text but the art of a translator is his ability to transfer not only the shells of the words in another language but also its culture, meaning and intention! And this is very difficult to learn completely on your own without a proper education!

[Edited at 2010-01-26 15:12 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Jan 26, 2010

I strongly recommend the ITI. I've been a member for donkeys' years, and most of my new customers come via its website. And it's a good organization, well run, with lots of events and a very readable magazine.

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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:00
French to English
+ ...
Credibility Jan 26, 2010

Albert Fischer wrote:

DO I NOT HAVE enough credibility by holding two law degrees? In my opinion acquiring those is more demanding than a degree in translations, no offence.


I'm sure there is a long list of qualifications that could be described as "more demanding" than a translation degree (e.g. specialist medical training, an architecture degree, law degrees) but the one thing all these qualifications have in common is that they say absolutely nothing about your ability to translate, which is an entirely separate skill.

I strongly recommend the ITI for the reasons given above by others. You will have to prove your translation ability in order to join, possibly by first acquiring an additional qualification such as the Diploma in Translation (which takes less time than a Master's, is highly specific and not expensive), but is that such a bad thing?


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:00
Dutch to English
+ ...
To answer your question ... Jan 26, 2010

Albert Fischer wrote:

DO I NOT HAVE enough credibility by holding two law degrees? In my opinion acquiring those is more demanding than a degree in translations, no offence.



No.

There are plenty of lawyers out there who cannot even draft properly, never mind translate, so although your law degrees and knowledge of both legal systems will no doubt put you in good stead to tackle certain texts in future, they are not in themselves any indication that you are a competent translator.


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Albert Fischer (Dipl. Jur., LL.B., BDÜ)  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Lawyer-linguist Jan 26, 2010

OK I appreciate that. But then again I have plenty of samples and two providers expressed their 'willingness to work again' on here.

But yeah, I guess I will have to acquire ITI/BDU etc membership.

Could it be that they are not so keen on people who do not have a translation diploma and chose that specific career path?

We'll see. Sivara's post is a bit intimidating..

Cheers for posting


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Albert Fischer (Dipl. Jur., LL.B., BDÜ)  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@ Angela Dickson Jan 26, 2010

So, this Diploma in Translation (I am sort of adverse to acquiring more diplomas but never mind) - where could I get it from and for how much, do you know?

I am sure I could google it but I'd like to hear it from you, you seem to be in the know.

Thanks,

Albert.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:00
Swedish to English
+ ...
"where could I get it from and for how much" Jan 26, 2010

Were these the two most important questions you asked prior to deciding to study for you law degrees?

Albert Fischer wrote:

So, this Diploma in Translation (I am sort of adverse to acquiring more diplomas but never mind) - where could I get it from and for how much, do you know?

I am sure I could google it but I'd like to hear it from you, you seem to be in the know.


Acquiring diplomas might seem a bit tiresome, but try to view it as acquiring knowledge. Just as you do when googling.

If there's one thing that defines a professional translator, it's the want to learn.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:00
French to English
+ ...
How are you marketing yourself? Jan 27, 2010

Albert Fischer wrote:
Given my UK and German law degrees, I thought this should be a shoo-in but it's not necessarily the case.
o you think I should become a member of one of the British and/or one of the German associations such as ITI or BDUe?
[/quote]

I think pretty much all of the comments made so far on this thread are valid: having a diploma in translation and being a mamber will convince *certain* clients/agencies, and may help you get work via the respective web site. Even though you have two law degrees, some clients will be wondering if this necessarily means you can actually translate.

On the other hand, I would have thought that having English and German law degrees should also be convincing to some clients. I share some of the reservations others have expressed-- that this doesn't necessarily imply much about your translation skills per se-- but many clients may well be convinced. Remember, many clients have absolutely no idea what a DipTrans is or of the existence of translation associations; their decision as to which translator to used is based much more on the "general argument" you put forward.

So if I were you, as well as considering joining one of the associations, I'd think about re-vamping your web site and investing in some good old marketing.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:00
French to English
+ ...
details Jan 27, 2010

Albert Fischer wrote:

So, this Diploma in Translation (I am sort of adverse to acquiring more diplomas but never mind) - where could I get it from and for how much, do you know?

I am sure I could google it but I'd like to hear it from you, you seem to be in the know.

Thanks,

Albert.


It's administered by the Institute of Linguists (www.iol.org.uk). I am up against deadlines so I'm afraid you will have to do the rest of the research yourself, or wait for someone else to tell you here. It costs less than £1000.

[Edited at 2010-01-27 09:28 GMT]


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