how helpful is being bilingual?

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mdowney
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how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby mdowney » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:47 pm

I am currently a 1L at UT and was wondering if it is worth the investment to try and learn Spanish before OCI? I know some Spanish, but definitely not enough to carry on an interview with someone who is fluent. Is it worth it to buy Rosetta Stone or something so I possibly improve my chances for BigLaw in Texas?

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vamedic03
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby vamedic03 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:25 pm

mdowney wrote:I am currently a 1L at UT and was wondering if it is worth the investment to try and learn Spanish before OCI? I know some Spanish, but definitely not enough to carry on an interview with someone who is fluent. Is it worth it to buy Rosetta Stone or something so I possibly improve my chances for BigLaw in Texas?


Unless the firms are doing cross-border M&A with Latin America, and you're particularly interested in cross-border M&A, I don't see it being that helpful.

MPMP
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby MPMP » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:34 pm

I had interviews with several firms recently and they both said that they could use someone who could speak Spanish, and that it would be a real asset. These were regional, Southern Midlaw firms.

Anonymous User
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:45 pm

mdowney wrote:I am currently a 1L at UT and was wondering if it is worth the investment to try and learn Spanish before OCI? I know some Spanish, but definitely not enough to carry on an interview with someone who is fluent. Is it worth it to buy Rosetta Stone or something so I possibly improve my chances for BigLaw in Texas?


I don't think it would be very much helpful unless you're a native speaker.

Proficiency wise, you can't beat Latino's. Also fluent usage of a language requires in depth cultural knowledge and this would be difficult to gain within a couple of years.

I think this goes for any other language like French or Chinese.

Every firm has international or foreign lawyers at their firms so let them take care of any cross border work.

But then again, it might help to know some basic Spanish in order make friends (potential clients) that are from Latino families. People are always excited when someone is interested in their cultural backgrounds and understanding of their language shows that interest.

BeautifulSW
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby BeautifulSW » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:55 am

Certain state and federal public defender positions often advertise "bilingual preferred" which here in the Southwest generally means Spanish.

I speak Spanish myself though not fluently. I am not a native speaker. I studied the language a thousand years ago in High School then took two years of it just recently at the local University. I vacation in Mexico fairly frequently and I like to read the Mexican dailies to keep up. In my own PD time and in my current position with the state court system, I use my Spanish daily.

Having said that, the lawyer's Spanish, however fluent, is of limited value because 1) you won't be a certified interpreter; and 2) Even if you are a certified interpreter, you can't both advocate and be the interpreter in the same case.

Still, if you like the language and are interested in criminal defense or immigration practice, even cast-iron Spanish like mine is useful enough to pursue. It might make you marginally more employable.

weejonbu
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby weejonbu » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
mdowney wrote:I am currently a 1L at UT and was wondering if it is worth the investment to try and learn Spanish before OCI? I know some Spanish, but definitely not enough to carry on an interview with someone who is fluent. Is it worth it to buy Rosetta Stone or something so I possibly improve my chances for BigLaw in Texas?


I don't think it would be very much helpful unless you're a native speaker.

Proficiency wise, you can't beat Latino's. Also fluent usage of a language requires in depth cultural knowledge and this would be difficult to gain within a couple of years.

I think this goes for any other language like French or Chinese.

Every firm has international or foreign lawyers at their firms so let them take care of any cross border work.

But then again, it might help to know some basic Spanish in order make friends (potential clients) that are from Latino families. People are always excited when someone is interested in their cultural backgrounds and understanding of their language shows that interest.


I disagree with this. I learned Spanish over the course of a few years and was able to obtain a high level of fluency, to the point that I actually studied law at a university in Mexico City in Spanish while in undergrad. While there, I had a number of faculty members and visiting professors who offered me spots and/or were interested in discussing employment with me, even WITHOUT a JD at the time. I think learning a language, especially if you are really devoted to it and willing to completely immerse, is a great investment to your career and -- more importantly -- to yourself, period.

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underdawg
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby underdawg » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:41 pm

^ um..ok

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paratactical
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby paratactical » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:43 pm

At the biglaw firms I have worked at, Spanish fluency was a boost for secretarial hires, not attorney hires.

Anonymous User
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:23 pm

I speak German and Japanese. I note this on my resume, and have a substantial background in both languages. It rarely is commented on, and it doesn't appear to be an asset unless you are part of a firm that will have cause to do transactions in another country. I have gotten compliments and biglaw attorneys talking to me in general saying it is good, but it hasn't been a plus in any interviews I've ever been in. The large firms who have offices in Tokyo or other countries appear to either contract work out to law firms of that country, hire loads of foreign attorneys to fill their international offices, or hire foreign LLMs to do the substantial work, and any Americans who get sent out there tend to be partners.

A somewhat good aspect of knowing other languages and having experience with other countries, is that you have a slightly larger pool for jobs to look into. I had a good M+A/transactional focused internship last summer, and some Japanese law firms were very interested in someone who matches my profile (has experience with American M+A/American law, but can communicate and read Japanese), openly inviting me to get in touch for after graduation. Practicing abroad is another matter entirely though, which depending on what you want to do (IE: not spend your entire life in another country) can be a terrible career move. I've talked with American attorneys who work abroad (typically as consultants) saying their experience doesn't translate into any decent jobs in the US, and they discovered they were (career-wise) somewhat marooned in another country after practicing for a significant time.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Drake014
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Re: how helpful is being bilingual?

Postby Drake014 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I speak German and Japanese. I note this on my resume, and have a substantial background in both languages. It rarely is commented on, and it doesn't appear to be an asset unless you are part of a firm that will have cause to do transactions in another country. That being said, the large firms who have offices in Tokyo or so, appear to hire loads of (Japanese) LLMs, and any Americans who get sent out there tend to be partners.

A somewhat good aspect of knowing other languages and having experience with other countries, is that you have a slightly larger pool for jobs to look into. I had a good M+A/transactional focused internship last summer, and some Japanese law firms were very interested in someone who matches my profile (has experience with American M+A and American law, but can communicate and read Japanese), openly inviting me to get in touch for after graduation. That being said, I'm still casting about and unemployed for my 2l summer :)


Why is this anonymous? WW2 was a long time ago, no one will hold speaking these two languages against you now.




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