According to this article by De Groot and Van Laer, most of the legal dictionaries that you’re likely to pick up may not be very useful:
To translate between the different languages of the Member States of the European Union (EU) about one hundred seventy bilingual legal dictionaries are available. Regrettably, the quality of most of these dictionaries is poor to extremely bad. Only a few dictionaries are of good quality. (De Groot & Van Laer, 2008, p. 4)
And why is this so?
It seems to us that many authors or compilers of bilingual legal dictionaries do not understand how legal translations should be made. They simply make a list of legal terms in the source language and give for each term one or more words from the target language as “translation” without any further information on the legal context. Because of the system-specificity of legal terminology, this kind of dictionaries is practically useless. (De Groot & Van Laer, 2008, p. 4)
The article goes on to give criteria for good legal dictionaries (on page 9) and lists the best and the poorest dictionaries found in the study carried out by the authors, who were impressed with only 12 out of over 200 dictionaries that they assessed.
Apart from talk on legal dictionaries, the article also has some good information on legal translation in general and in particular on how to deal with non-equivalence: the excitement of everyone’s existence. 🙂
De Groot, R. and Van Laer, Conrad, The Quality of Legal Dictionaries: An Assessment (October 21, 2008). Available at SSRN: http://ow.ly/cPq0T