Suzanne Deliscar offers expert legal translation, but she is also a practicing lawyer based in Toronto.
Her dream of combining languages of law beckoned her in 2008 to leave a full-time practice and start both a sole practice as a lawyer and a translation business.
As accomplished as she is, Ms. Deliscar graciously offered to answer my questions on her career and business.
Q: You have followed two distinctive and complementary career paths – how did that evolve?
I am a Canadian lawyer-linguist specialized in French English translation and Spanish English translation. I focus on certificate and legal translation. I started out learning French in Late French Immersion in grade 7 and continued on throughout high school. I also took 3 years of Spanish in high school.
I always wanted to combine languages and law. Right after undergrad (studies) I went to law school, but I never left languages behind. I taught English, did volunteer translation, and kept self-educating in French and Spanish.
Q: In your legal translation business, what are the challenges you face, and how do you deal with them?
Personally, being more of an academic, it was challenging to learn how to market myself and my services, since I had been an employee most of my life. I realized that if I wanted to continue to be successful career-wise, I would have to learn both marketing and networking. I took business coaching classes and voraciously read about both marketing and networking, both in print and online.
Q: What priorities did you set up when beginning your business?
Right from the start, my first priority was and remains to fully enjoy the richness of language and translation. I have always loved languages and law, and want it to remain that way. I also made it a priority to use my language skills to reach and help others, and mentor other “double-hyphenates”.
Q: What role does networking play in finding clients, if any?
Networking has played a huge role in the success of my translation business. The same elements that grew my law practice come into play with my legal translation services.
I have many repeat clients who came about through networking at different events. I truly believe that becoming visible is key to building a translation business. Many people have come to know me as a lawyer-linguist … The combination brings added value to my clients.
Q: How does social media work for you?
Social media is very important as it opens the dialogue between translators/interpreters. We use it to learn from each other. Social media is very much an educational tool. I educate my connections on various issues of law and languages.
Every day on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, I make sure to post something for others that they will delight in learning.
Q: As an entrepreneur do you have any business advice for translators trying to make ends meet?
Yes, indeed, become known! Brand yourself as the translator to go to for your language pair and subject area. Like any other industry, there is a lot of competition but there is still a lot of work, enough to go around.
If I just said I translate Spanish>English and French>English, I would not stand out. By promoting the fact that I am a lawyer-linguist, that I am a practicing lawyer (providing expert legal translation), and that I am well-connected are just some of the things that have drawn people to me.
We are all unique, show who you are and let your clients love you!
As well, it is not always a step backward to take on other work while building your translation business, valuable contacts can be made in-house. As well, become well-connected. Clients like it when you can point them in the right direction when you can’t help them yourself.
Keep a list of translators in other language pairs and/or subject matters that you can refer work to.
Translation work, like any other field, can be well-paid if a translator sets themselves solid rates and cultivates good clients. I love what I do.