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Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:23 pm
by journolaw
Hi

I'm a US citizen considering attending law school in 3-4 years to try to start a new career. I'm currently a journalist.

One legal career I'm considering is international corporate law. The idea of working with clients in other countries, of learning a new culture and of having the opportunity to take on major transnational clients appeals to me.

But is it at all practical? If I had 3-4 years of Arabic study -- with an Eastern dialect -- would this actually put me in a position to be able to do this type of work?

How can someone thinking about being a lawyer also think about incorporating foreign-language skills into a job?

:mrgreen:

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:32 am
by OmarLittle
I'm wondering the same thing. I've put a lot of time into studying Latin American Spanish, and I'm hopeful that it will somehow help me in my career as well, in either international law or criminal law (ideally I would want to be that scumbag that defends war criminals, as evil as that sounds). I'd even pursue an additional language if it gave me a career boost.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:56 pm
by No13baby
The easiest way to use a foreign language in your law practice is probably either immigration law or doing transactional work at a big firm, as OP suggested. Doing stuff at the ICC or the UN or whatever is not a realistic option.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:53 pm
by bp shinners
No13baby wrote:Doing stuff at the ICC or the UN or whatever is not a realistic option.


Yea, getting those jobs is going to be very rare.

However, if you have a rare language skill, big firms will most likely make use of that. Arabic/Chinese are probably the most universally useful; Spanish is marketable in the LA market.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:16 pm
by journolaw
I tried to make it clear that I do not have ambitions to represent war criminals at the Hague.

I am interested in this from a corporate transaction law perspective.

So look for example at the infamous Amy Chua's [url]CV:http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/chuacurriculumvitae.htm[/url]

She teaches transaction and development law from an international perspective, and it's clear she's worked on both cases and written extensively on both subjects.

I understand TLS's instinct to snap any young person looking to finish Woodrow Wilson's life work to their senses, but it also seems like there must be lawyers who navigate the changing legal landscape prodded by globalization and by the increased presence of multinational corporations in the ME/Asia.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:52 pm
by No13baby
journolaw wrote:I tried to make it clear that I do not have ambitions to represent war criminals at the Hague.

I am interested in this from a corporate transaction law perspective.

So look for example at the infamous Amy Chua's [url]CV:http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/chuacurriculumvitae.htm[/url]

She teaches transaction and development law from an international perspective, and it's clear she's worked on both cases and written extensively on both subjects.

I understand TLS's instinct to snap any young person looking to finish Woodrow Wilson's life work to their senses, but it also seems like there must be lawyers who navigate the changing legal landscape prodded by globalization and by the increased presence of multinational corporations in the ME/Asia.

My response was meant more for the second poster, not you. Transactional work is probably the closest most people will ever come to "international law" and if you can get into one of the big firms what you want to do is probably plausible.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:46 pm
by OmarLittle
My dream job of working with the ICC or UN is just that, a dream. They dont have to be "realistic options". I thought it was clear I was being a bit facetious.

Referencing the use of Spanish in legal work, am I wrong to assume the jobs that would require this skill would generally be low paying PI work? Somehow I doubt that the communities that would require the use of a Spanish speaking attorney have a lot of money to spend. I hope I'm wrong because my Spanish skills are an asset I have invested hundreds of hours into developing.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:50 pm
by theadvancededit
OmarLittle wrote:Referencing the use of Spanish in legal work, am I wrong to assume the jobs that would require this skill would generally be low paying PI work?


Yes.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:03 pm
by EMZE
Actually very interested in this as well. All I have to contribute to the question is a friend who retired from the military, went to Fordham Law, and now makes a ridiculous amount of money working for a US firm in China. He was a linguist in the Army, and I really don't know what exactly he does now aside from living in China and being a lawyer, but I do know those jobs exist.

I studied Arabic as well, of the MSA variety, along with Russian, Italian, and Pashto. The last 13 or so years I have spent focused on foreign languages/culture/consulting, so I think I can justify my interest going down this line of work... I also don't think there are a huge number of people that want to work overseas in countries that aren't vacation spots.

I didn't notice from the first post, but OP, as I am sure you know, if you are a female, it might be a tough market to crack in the middle east. My wife had a very tough time when we were in Egypt, despite a resume and skill set that puts me to shame in any society that places men and women on equal footing.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:05 pm
by thelogicalconstruct
I have similar interests. I am first generation American with strong ties to Europe. I notice many American law firms have offices in various European countries. I am wondering how does that work? Can American lawyers practice law in other countries? What kind of law typically is practiced in these situations? I have duel citizenship so it wouldn't be hard for me to live in Europe. Any advice on this? How does it work?

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:10 pm
by journolaw
Good questions.

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:30 pm
by PennQuaker
Value of Arabic? Well, you could always defend terrorists...

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:43 pm
by thelogicalconstruct
PennQuaker wrote:Value of Arabic? Well, you could always defend terrorists...



Unnecessary comment. I noticed the CIA is hiring. They maybe interested.


What about American firms in Europe? Does anyone have any insight? What schools have better ties to those possibilities?

Re: Lawyer who uses a foreign language? Value of Arabic?

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:46 pm
by superbloom
I took Arabic for 3 years in undergrad. 3.8 GPA in those classes. Didn't seem to help much.