Advice re: getting into law translation

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Dylan Luers Toda

May 10, 2022, 11:03:01 AMMay 10
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Hi everyone,

I'm hoping to receive some advice regarding getting into law translation.

First, a little background: For about eight years, I've been a JE translator specializing in human and social science academic fields, especially Japanese history and religion. I gained the language and knowledge necessary for my career through my undergraduate studies (East Asian Studies) in the US and by attending a Japanese university as a research and master's student. Currently, I live in the United States (Pittsburgh).

While I have always had more than enough work, recently there has been a lull (which I attribute researchers continually putting international projects on hold over the past two years of the pandemic), and the JPY/USD exchange rate has been quite horrible for people living in USD and receiving income in JPY. This has led me to think more about my career in the long term, and I am considering diversifying, that is, adding a specialization. (I also am always actively trying to improve my efficiency through CAT and MT tools.)

Legal translation is a specialization I am considering, partially because the rates seem to be on the higher end.

I am wondering what the best way to get into the field would be. I am thinking about attending a part-time program at a local university to acquire a Master of Studies in Law with a specialization in international business. However, I am concerned this would not adequately acquaint me with Japanese law. Is anyone aware of any online programs or other avenues through which I could do so?

(Ideally, I would like to attend a program in law at a US institution and then at a Japanese one, but unfortunately family circumstances prevent me from moving countries in the foreseeable future.)

TL;DR: Looking for information on ways to acquire the necessary knowledge to begin JE legal translation work.

Looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts.

Thank you,

Joe Jones

May 11, 2022, 5:58:50 AMMay 11
IMO, your knowledge of diction and style in the target language is far more important than your knowledge of vocabulary in the source language, so I would focus on acquainting yourself with the typical English wording of the types of legal documents you would like to handle, whether it’s patent applications, contracts, or due diligence reports. You can always use dictionaries or Google to look up the meaning of unfamiliar Japanese terminology.

Also check out, bookmark, and constantly refer to the Japanese Law Translation website set up by the Japanese government. They have a very useful legal glossary, which you can export as a CSV file to use in translation software. They also have a must-read style handbook:

Joe Jones

On May 10, 2022, at 11:03 AM, Dylan Luers Toda <> wrote:

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