On Antitransblawg I started by saying: don’t translate Rechtsanwalt as solicitor.

Comments and questions are welcome in tweets.

There won’t always be explanations here.


1. In England and Wales, the legal profession is divided into solicitors and barristers (‘the divided profession’).
In Germany, there is no such division. Rechtsanwalt is therefore a broader term. As I say under 4. below, it can be good to take a broader term (e.g. lawyer) – but it is a bad idea to take a narrower term (solicitor, barrister).

2. In the EU, a solicitor may practise as a solicitor in Germany, and a Rechtsanwalt may practise as a Rechtsanwalt in the UK.
So there are cases where you don’t want to translate the term at all, but just use the German.
Otherwise it may be confusing.

David Hole in Munich did the transfer test, so he can call himself both a solicitor and a Rechtsanwalt.

3. Lots of translators who live in the UK and work for UK clients use the term solicitor as a translation, and so do lots of British people (‘My sister is getting divorced in Germany, and her solicitor says…’). Well, this may well work in general waffly contexts.

Here’s a discussion on ProZ. In the text there, there was a reference to a notary who was also a Rechtsanwalt (this is the case in some Länder) so lawyer was not a good term to distinguish Notar and Rechtsanwalt.

4. Other terms are lawyer (a very broad term, but certainly OK – and in legal terminology it’s often useful to go to a broader term for a solution) and attorney (which I like, although some think it is too unfamiliar in the UK – but historically it was used. I don’t particularly like adding ‘at law’, although I suppose it will increase your earnings if you are paid by the target line/word.

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