How to improve your legal translation skills

Ready, set, go…

When I got my legal translation degree, I thought that was it. To be honest, after spending almost 6 years at university, I was a bit tired of studying. Besides, everyone deserves a break, right? Wrong!

As the saying goes, “there’s no rest for the weary” and it was my first contact with the market and with (more experienced) peers that put everything into perspective.

So, a few months after my graduation, I realized I had to do something. Most people I knew were attending conferences or enrolling in training sessions and I didn’t want to fall behind.

First of all, I tried to keep it up and learnt how to use CAT tools. After that, I enrolled in several field-related courses and even completed a Master’s degree! I also attended some legal translation conferences. I love listening to all the interesting things my colleagues have to say. The world is much bigger than I thought and there are a lot of colleagues out there doing amazing things.

Getting started

Thanks to social networks, I found out there are many online courses and conferences every month and everywhere!

Of course, I usually get very excited and want to do everything. But “everything” is not possible and not necessary, to be honest. It’s not about how much information we have, but how we use that information to our benefit.

Here are some ideas for you:

What to do?

Well, these are 2 very easy steps to choose the best CPD activity for YOU:

Step 1: strategic planning. Learn to choose. Learn to allocate your resources (time and money) efficiently. There’s always a well-organized soul who makes (and shares) a list of CPD activities available in your field. If you follow the right people/institutions on social networks, you’ll probably know what, when, and where these activities take place.

Step 2: once you know what’s out there, stop for a minute and think:

  • what is actually useful for my work? where can I learn things that will improve the quality of my work?
  • where can I meet colleagues or potential clients?

I’m a translator and translators always say specialization is key. The same concept applies here: be specific and choose something that will add value to your work.

You’ve got the time, but not much money to spare

That’s OK. I know CPD can be expensive and we’re not always in a position to spend money on this. However, this is a post for all budgets so here are some useful tips:

1⃣ Most courses/conferences offer early-bird discounts. If you plan ahead, you can take advantage of this and save some money.

Unless you’re 100% sure you want to go to that conference, read the program first. This will give you an idea of the presentations and topics to see if they’re right for you. Sometimes, a conference looks very interesting, but then you realize you only want to attend one presentation.

2⃣ You can share expenses with a colleague.

3⃣ In the case of conferences, check if there’s a live-streaming broadcast. I know it’s not the same as being there, but you’ll still have the chance to learn and you can save this money and use it some other time.

4⃣ Also, most people who attend events use Twitter to share photos and interesting quotes. If I know there’s a conference I can’t go to, I usually keep an eye out for their posts as they give me a chance to participate even though I’m not there.

5⃣ If you want to go for a Master’s degree, look for grants or scholarships (that’s how I got to do mine).

Summing up

  • CPD helps you improve your knowledge and skills. It helps you get better at what you do. This, in turn, will improve the quality of your services (i.e., happy clients)
  • CPD ensures that you stay relevant and up to date (especially in our fast-changing world).
  • CPD makes you think about your profession. You’ll ask yourself questions about how you can improve your work and this is always a good drive for change.
  • CPD can be a mind-blowing experience (it is for me!)
  • There’s more to being a professional than getting your degree.

My CPD shopping cart

Every year, I try to add activities to my “CPD shopping basket”. This year, it looks like this:

Proceed to checkout:

📆 May: Law and Language in Utrecht organized by the European Commission

📆 September: PLAIN Conference 2019 in Oslo

Wish list:

📆 June: Legal Linguistics 2019 at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland)

Not much because I’m writing my thesis and that’s time-consuming. But I already know what I want to do in 2020 (CPD-wise) and I’m really happy about it! For now, I can only say it’s related to plain legal language.

Speaking of which, if you want to read more about plain legal language, you’re welcome to check my previous post here.

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