Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

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Which language gives the biggest boost to employability?

Chinese (Mandarin)
37
43%
Spanish
30
35%
Japanese
3
3%
Korean
2
2%
German
2
2%
French
3
3%
Italian
2
2%
Portuguese
4
5%
Arabic
3
3%
 
Total votes: 86

amyamy
Posts: 32
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Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby amyamy » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:58 pm

I got it.

Surprisingly though, knowledge of Chinese can come in handy - hence viewed as an asset - by firms that do not specialize in international transactions. Hence I say it is useful - but not very useful - for midlaw/small law firms. The growing Chinese population is the reason. Ultimately, it depends on the firms.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:59 pm

a sidenote: when I was a 2L I had an interview at a smallish but growing law firm in NYC that was founded by an attorney from China. He got picky about my Mandarin even though I have never had problem communicating with native mandarin speakers. By the way, this guy is not super well-qualified - he has an LLM from a T30 - I think he has the right connections to bring in a lot of businesses from China.

It's strange - I had never expected to be discriminated against by Chinese as I am Chinese. anyway, it is not as if working at a law firm named after its Chinese partner would not stigmatize a young lawyer.

Anonymous User
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Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:01 pm

Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese. The first two are probably the most in demand because they are big markets and there are so few JDs who can speak them. The latter because so many firms are building up their China practices.

To really capitalize on your language skills, you probably need to express a desire to spend some time in a foreign office. Firms are looking for fluency - I was interviewed multiple times in a foreign language during OCI (I'm a 2L). Since they can't test your reading and writing skills as easily, it is helpful to have lines on your resume demonstrating your ability to work in the foreign language.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:06 pm

I don't understand why Japanese is important though. Japanese economy has grown much for two decades now. Its capital market is increasingly pushed aside by Hong Kong and Shanghai. I think the number is 500 million USD in terms of IPO for Japan and 39 billion USD for HK and Shanghai last year. What else is there for Japan exactly?

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby adonai » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
adonai wrote:According to S&C, it is French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. I think Korean is in demand based on other articles I've seen elsewhere. Surprisingly, Chinese and Arabic aren't as much in demand. At least to this firm.

Original Report: http://cache.abovethelaw.com/uploads/20 ... -Guide.pdf


it actually says " French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, MANDARIN, Portuguese, and Spanish" in that file. I guess you didn't know Mandarin is a Chinese language?

I do know, and I guess I overlooked it. Apologies.

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Na_Swatch
Posts: 472
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:40 pm

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby Na_Swatch » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I don't understand why Japanese is important though. Japanese economy has grown much for two decades now. Its capital market is increasingly pushed aside by Hong Kong and Shanghai. I think the number is 500 million USD in terms of IPO for Japan and 39 billion USD for HK and Shanghai last year. What else is there for Japan exactly?


Function of size... Amount of Mandarin speakers outweighs Japanese speakers probably at least by factor of 10 in top law schools. Also IPO might be dead in Japan, but still several established US/UK firms in Japan for Capital Markets work.

Anonymous User
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Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:39 pm

IMHO native fluency is what matters at OCI, not whether you know the language well enough to talk in simple sentences with clients (which is what I assume most US-born law students mean when they put "Spanish" or "French" on their resumes). I say this because before law school I had worked as a paralegal, and one of the "niches" I had excelled at was doing Spanish-English translations of legal documents, mostly supporting pro-bono asylum cases. I got adept at learning Spanish legalese which, like English legalese, can be very dense and oddly structured. The firm loved me for it because I did quick and precise translation work when there were lulls in my actual duties. I also saved them money because my work prevented them from hiring expensive certified translators. I had anecdotes galore about the translations I did before law school, always highlighting my native fluency. Every time I brought them up, I could see the partners' eyes light up. I got an offer from a firm that does a lot of corporate transaction work with Latin America.

So, language skills can make a HUGE difference. But they only matter if you a) have substantive work experience with translations to back up your language-fluency claims and b) you have native fluency, so that you're of some actual use to the firm. Attorneys with "textbook Spanish" language skills are a dime a dozen. Attorneys graduating from top law schools with a good grasp of US law, licensed to work in the US, and having complete native fluency in Central American and Mexican Spanish are much rarer.

roranoa
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Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby roranoa » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:21 am

amyamy wrote:I think knowledge of Japanese is very useful for biglaw jobs.

but knowledge of Chinese is moderately useful for biglaw jobs, and useful for mid- or even small firms that engage in the right kind of practices. I can't think of any mid/small law firms that have japanese practices.

Are you Japanese?

How big is the Japanese market for American/English lawfirms anyway? Is it bigger than China? Can American or English lawyers practice as actual lawyers in Japan? Or just advisors?
Last edited by roranoa on Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

turbotong
Posts: 181
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:53 am

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby turbotong » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:06 am

As a guy from Texas, I can vouch for sure that if you live on the US/Mexico border then Spanish is the way to go fo sho

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:21 am

Mandarin dialect of Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese (since Brazil is the "B" of the booming BRIC nations) & any language of the countries where US law firms do, or want to do, significant business. Some major law firms highlight the language fluency of their partners & associates as prominately as other law firms do judicial clerkships.

User avatar
shepdawg
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:00 pm

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby shepdawg » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:34 pm

LawIdiot86 wrote:I think this survey is flawed in the assumption any law student could learn all of these languages to the same level of comprehension in the same period of time. Learning spanish to a conversational level over a summer is hard, but possible. Learning japanese to even a basic level over a year would be nearly unheard of.

So, you're saying that buying Rosetta Stone for Portuguese and studying with it a few hours a day until graduation would be a waste of time?

roranoa
Posts: 588
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:18 am

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby roranoa » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:IMHO native fluency is what matters at OCI, not whether you know the language well enough to talk in simple sentences with clients (which is what I assume most US-born law students mean when they put "Spanish" or "French" on their resumes). I say this because before law school I had worked as a paralegal, and one of the "niches" I had excelled at was doing Spanish-English translations of legal documents, mostly supporting pro-bono asylum cases. I got adept at learning Spanish legalese which, like English legalese, can be very dense and oddly structured. The firm loved me for it because I did quick and precise translation work when there were lulls in my actual duties. I also saved them money because my work prevented them from hiring expensive certified translators. I had anecdotes galore about the translations I did before law school, always highlighting my native fluency. Every time I brought them up, I could see the partners' eyes light up. I got an offer from a firm that does a lot of corporate transaction work with Latin America.

So, language skills can make a HUGE difference. But they only matter if you a) have substantive work experience with translations to back up your language-fluency claims and b) you have native fluency, so that you're of some actual use to the firm. Attorneys with "textbook Spanish" language skills are a dime a dozen. Attorneys graduating from top law schools with a good grasp of US law, licensed to work in the US, and having complete native fluency in Central American and Mexican Spanish are much rarer.


I sort of agree with this.
I think language skills does make a big difference but only if you can speak it, write, and read like a native. And this would mostly be the case for international students with JDs (or a license from UK) or a US/UK student who studied extensively in his/her youth using another country's native language.

What I'm saying is, I don't think it will help to merely have a mid level proficiency in another language. You would need a thorough understanding like that of a native to be of help to a firm. And IMO which language really doesn't matter. There's basically a market every in the world now small or big.

amyamy
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 9:39 am

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby amyamy » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:17 pm

to be fair, not only international students possess native foreign language skills.
think about the american born chinese/ hispanic population.

roranoa
Posts: 588
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:18 am

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby roranoa » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:28 pm

amyamy wrote:to be fair, not only international students possess native foreign language skills.
think about the american born chinese/ hispanic population.

Yes, yes, those people too. But still mostly international students in terms of college level understanding.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273254
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Which second language gives biggest boost to employability?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:55 pm

If you are IP, especially patent, Japanese could be a big boost, but obviously you will have to be quite fluent in it.




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