Interested in Language
I am preparing for the career of being a legal translator. I heard that legal English is very difficult even for native speakers, is it true?
Lawyers love to argue. Given the chance of the slightest alternative interpretation of a clause, they will argue it. This is not surprising since frequently large amounts of money are at stake. If a lawyer can argue that a clause in a contract could mean something else, it is worth millions to his client.
To prevent such arguments, standard phrases are used. These have been tested many times in the courts and everyone understands the interpretation. Frequently Latin phrases are used, the law is that old.
The problem that you have in translation is to retain that accuracy. You must choose the new words, but if you introduce any ambiguity the lawyers will argue about it. Thus to translate accurately it is not enough to simply choose a similar word in your own language. You have to understand why each word is there. You have to know what arguments have been presented in court previously over slightly different wording. These same arguments will occur again if you get the wording wrong.
You should always have expert legal counsel in your own language review it. They will be looking for other ways to interpret your words. It doesn't matter if the you think the meaning is clear. If it is possible that a client interpreted it differently, then he must be given the benefit of the doubt.
It will probably be a bit of a shock at first, but as you become more familiar, you will see patterns and things repating and they become normal. Translating phrases and terms for the first time will be the most difficult and you may well need advice and help. The underlying concepts and principles may cause some difficulty at first as they may have nothing similar in Chinese law; I taught some Chinese lawyers several years ago who had gone to do LLMs in the UK to get to know the common law system to better understand things like the WTO. If you don't have common law, you will have to make sure you grasp it and how to put it into words that would make things clear to other Chinese speakers.
'English for Law' by Helen Riley might help; it's an advanced English language textbook for people studying law and it does go through the most important aspects of English law.