How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

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How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:11 pm

how much of a boost, if any, is fluency in mandarin for biglaw?

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RudeDudewithAttitude
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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby RudeDudewithAttitude » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:23 pm

Bigger than any other language that's for sure. If you are willing to live overseas, it is more likely to be an asset to a firm.

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PLATONiC
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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby PLATONiC » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:24 pm

I wish I could speak Mandarin.. I speak Korean, and that won't be as useful in the future.

Voyager
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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Voyager » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:34 pm

I have 2 friends that are starting in Hong Kong because of their fluency in Mandarin or Cantonese.

I think for the right firm it is helpful IF you make it clear you want to work in Asia.

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MrKappus
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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby MrKappus » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:39 pm

It's a good thing you used the anonymous feature. The 1/1,000,000,000+ chance that someone could ID and out you based on the fact that you're fluent in Mandarin is too risky.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:41 pm

MrKappus wrote:It's a good thing you used the anonymous feature. The 1/1,000,000,000+ chance that someone could ID and out you based on the fact that you're fluent in Mandarin is too risky.


i'm a longtime poster.

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MrKappus
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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby MrKappus » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
MrKappus wrote:It's a good thing you used the anonymous feature. The 1/1,000,000,000+ chance that someone could ID and out you based on the fact that you're fluent in Mandarin is too risky.


i'm a longtime poster.


Ah. It's still an abuse of the anon feature, but whatever. I know a lot of attys, in-house and outside counsel, and have never heard of fluency in another language not counting for something. If it happens to be the most-spoken language on the planet...well that sounds pretty marketable.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:56 pm

RudeDudewithAttitude wrote:Bigger than any other language that's for sure. If you are willing to live overseas, it is more likely to be an asset to a firm.


+1. It surely helps if you interview with the right firms. On the other hand, though, I do think that there is an oversupply of Mandarin speaking law students in general (Chinese LLMs + Chinese JDs + American-born Chinese + other Americans who can speak Mandarin...), considering the relative small size of the Asian offices of the BigLaw firms in general (5-10 American attorneys per office, I'd say). Anyway, it is always a solid soft factor if you are reasonably fluent in reading and writing, but it will not give you a boost beyond your school / GPA range.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
RudeDudewithAttitude wrote:Bigger than any other language that's for sure. If you are willing to live overseas, it is more likely to be an asset to a firm.


+1. It surely helps if you interview with the right firms. On the other hand, though, I do think that there is an oversupply of Mandarin speaking law students in general (Chinese LLMs + Chinese JDs + American-born Chinese + other Americans who can speak Mandarin...), considering the relative small size of the Asian offices of the BigLaw firms in general (5-10 American attorneys per office, I'd say). Anyway, it is always a solid soft factor if you are reasonably fluent in reading and writing, but it will not give you a boost beyond your school / GPA range.


hmmm, so it's only a boost if I want to go to their Asia offices?

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
RudeDudewithAttitude wrote:Bigger than any other language that's for sure. If you are willing to live overseas, it is more likely to be an asset to a firm.


+1. It surely helps if you interview with the right firms. On the other hand, though, I do think that there is an oversupply of Mandarin speaking law students in general (Chinese LLMs + Chinese JDs + American-born Chinese + other Americans who can speak Mandarin...), considering the relative small size of the Asian offices of the BigLaw firms in general (5-10 American attorneys per office, I'd say). Anyway, it is always a solid soft factor if you are reasonably fluent in reading and writing, but it will not give you a boost beyond your school / GPA range.


hmmm, so it's only a boost if I want to go to their Asia offices?


I don't think you have to say "I speak Mandarin, and I would love to pack up for Shanghai tomorrow." But your language ability would surely serve you better if you are interviewing with a firm that prides itself in its transnational work, compared with a mid-size firm which specializes in local personal income tax. Again, I'm really not sure how exactly it works, but you get the rough idea.

On a side note, I heard that there is a slight difference depending on whether you are a foreign or US citizen: for US citizens, you probably need more specific reasons on why you would like to work for an Asia office, and I know some firms even require a separate interview process. If you are a foreigner from Asia, though, it would be at the firm's and your mutual interest to avoid the fuss of visa / GC sponsorship, and going to an Asia office would be a natural / self-explanatory choice.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:32 pm

People in Shanghai don't speak Mandarin, they speak Shanghaiese. And Cantonese in Hong Kong. hth

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MrKappus
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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby MrKappus » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:People in Shanghai don't speak Mandarin, they speak Shanghaiese. And Cantonese in Hong Kong. hth


On second thought, Mandarin probably doesn't count for shit. Chinese people speak English, and they're not going to have you running conference calls to Chinese clients as a new associate anyway. Hopefully you got good grades and that'll be enough.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby prosp23 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:01 pm

People in Shanghai have their own dialect, but they also all speak Mandarin.

I think fluency in Mandarin will give you a boost. IME, a lot of Chinese people (in my area at least) seem to prefer to be represented by white people. It would definitely be a unique plus to be fluent, IME.

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MrKappus
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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby MrKappus » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:50 pm

prosp23 wrote:IME, a lot of Chinese people (in my area at least) seem to prefer to be represented by white people.

:shock:

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby ahshav » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:46 pm

MrKappus wrote:Ah. It's still an abuse of the anon feature, but whatever. I know a lot of attys, in-house and outside counsel, and have never heard of fluency in another language not counting for something. If it happens to be the most-spoken language on the planet...well that sounds pretty marketable.


A somewhat open-ended question - but do you any thoughts on what other languages would be helpful?
FWIW, I'm not about to go start learning another language based an answer here - just curious.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Headybrah » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:58 pm

"People in Shanghai have their own dialect, but they also all speak Mandarin."

Everyone in China reads the same contracts in simplified characters
and most people in Shanghai can understand a traditional Chinese accent

In terms of Hong Kong, much of China's business is done there, where
their companies access free capital markets and I would assume
a fair portion of the work there is done in Chinese as well...

Good luck if your thinking of picking it up!

Ive been studying for 6 years and am only now comfortable saying I am
fluent. Have lived there and done immersion language learning...

Its a great language and a fascinating culture!

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby doublefocus4 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:People in Shanghai don't speak Mandarin, they speak Shanghaiese. And Cantonese in Hong Kong. hth


As someone who currently lives in Shanghai, I can confidently say this is a pretty ridiculous statement to make. A lot of the people who live in Shanghai are not Shanghainese (originally from Shanghai) and so do not speak the Shanghai dialect. Mandarin is the language of instruction at Chinese schools and about everyone you meet here will be able to speak mandarin albeit with varying degrees of accent clarity.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:40 am

I think Mandarin fluency or any foreign language is generally overrated as an asset. If you're a U.S. lawyer who is doing U.S. work, English is going to be your go-to language.

Mandarin is useful insofar as your ability to adapt to the culture, navigate the locals, and to perhaps make clients feel comfortable. If you can use your Mandarin to bring in local clients, you're golden. Otherwise, it's not that useful.

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Re: How much does fluency in Mandarin help?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:52 am

I would have to disagree with those who say foreign languages are over-rated. If you are fluent in Mandarin or any other language for that matter then you are an asset to a firm who does business with companies whose leaders speak said language. I would say ESPECIALLY if you are not racially asian yourself. The reason being is that (and I know this sounds corny) you are a secret weapon for your firm. You can be just a white or black guy sitting in the corner of the room while an opposing business chats it up in english with your American clients. When the opposition tries to speak amongst themselves in Mandarin, they don't know that you are listening in; they may not assume because they think because you are just one of the other white guys.

Now if you are not caucasion or african american then your language wouldn't be useful to you in the same manner as the situation I have described, but useful nonetheless. And marketable too, it's all about selling yourself. Submit a resume in English and in Chinese for god sakes that will impress them and get the message across.




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