hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

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hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:32 am

Hi everyone,

I'm starting school this fall. Currently, I have a fairly difficult to pronounce (in that 90% of people say it wrong the first time) first name that's Asian. I go by my legal name.

Should I change my name for future professional purposes? It seems really complicated these days with college records, driver's license, medical records, high school records, standardized tests records, passports etc. But I don't want people thinking that I have mediocre English skills or am just very FOB because of my name.

Is my name going to be a problem in biglaw? I rarely see firm profiles with really Asian first and last names for people who aren't international. Do you think it's more of a case of self-selection or is there some kind of ehh judgment, even if more subconscious, against Asian-sounding names?

I'm not ashamed of my heritage or anything like that, but it doesn't help that I'm not that proficient in my Asian language, so I can't spin that as plus, either. I also wonder if people will think I'm silly for doing this in my 20s when I should've probably done it before college. I wonder if it's 'too late' in some ways.

Basically: is this important enough to warrant the hassle? I'd prefer not to introduce myself by a new name in law school b/c there's a fair number of people there who already know me. I guess I'd do it if I had to? I'd probably get a western first name and keep my middle name as is. Is doing it vise versa just stupid? I have no idea how these things would even work. Would my original name just go in quotes as a middle name/nickname? Would I introduce myself to people by my old name and have them call me by something Western if they want? Or just eliminate my old name? Complicated.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts, especially if you have experience with biglaw + Asian names, changed your name later in life, or know of people in a similar situation/of a similar background.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT: I guess it would be prudent to note that I'm a girl.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:43 am, edited 3 times in total.

kaiser
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby kaiser » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:39 am

Let me guess: Nguyen

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bk1
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby bk1 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:40 am

kaiser wrote:Let me guess: Nguyen


Maybe my California-ness is showing but this isn't that hard to pronounce.

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FeelTheHeat
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby FeelTheHeat » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:45 am

bk1 wrote:
kaiser wrote:Let me guess: Nguyen


Maybe my California-ness is showing but this isn't that hard to pronounce.


I have zero clue how to pronounce it.

rad lulz
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby rad lulz » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:46 am

.
Last edited by rad lulz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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FeelTheHeat
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby FeelTheHeat » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:46 am

Walker

071816
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby 071816 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:48 am

bk1 wrote:
kaiser wrote:Let me guess: Nguyen


Maybe my California-ness is showing but this isn't that hard to pronounce.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:49 am

bk1 wrote:
kaiser wrote:Let me guess: Nguyen


Maybe my California-ness is showing but this isn't that hard to pronounce.


OP:

No. And is anyone's first name Nguyen? My last name is not difficult to pronounce.

I am also a girl. So while "Walker" is tempting, I am neither from Texas nor much of a ranger/presidential wannabe.

Is the putting a random name (that is consistent) on resumes actually workable? I imagine it'd be kind of awkward for checking references, or do they not actually do that.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby kaiser » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:53 am

bk1 wrote:
kaiser wrote:Let me guess: Nguyen


Maybe my California-ness is showing but this isn't that hard to pronounce.


Yeah, its gotta be the Cali in you that makes that easy. Its not that the pronunciation in itself is hard. Its just that an English speaker would never see this name for the first time and inherently know how its pronounced. For the longest time, I just sounded it out and said it sort of like "in-goo-yen"
Last edited by kaiser on Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby UnitarySpace » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:54 am

obviously its a chinese guy with a z or x in his name.

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FeelTheHeat
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby FeelTheHeat » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:55 am

UnitarySpace wrote:obviously its a chinese guy with a z or x in his name.


Anonymous User wrote:I am also a girl.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby charliep » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:56 am

kaiser wrote:
bk1 wrote:
kaiser wrote:Let me guess: Nguyen


Maybe my California-ness is showing but this isn't that hard to pronounce.


Yeah, its gotta be the Cali in you that makes that easy. Its not that the pronunciation in itself is hard. Its just that an English speaker would never see this name for the first time and inherently know how its pronounced. For the longest time, I just sounded it out and said it sort of like "in-goo-yen"


unless you were an aggies or cowboys football fan. you're golden in texas

rad lulz
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby rad lulz » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:58 am

.
Last edited by rad lulz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:58 am

Standard convention is to put the American version of how to pronounce your name in parenthesis in your resume. Does your name have a more americanized version?

Example: Yehonatan (Jonathan) Smith

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby spets » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:02 am

rad lulz wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:No. And is anyone's first name Nguyen?

--ImageRemoved--

Both the shooter (Nguyễn Ngọc Loan) and the shootee (Nguyễn Văn Lém).


For Asian names, the last name (family name) is always first.
Last edited by spets on Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

rad lulz
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby rad lulz » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:03 am

.
Last edited by rad lulz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby rad lulz » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:04 am

.
Last edited by rad lulz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby bk1 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:04 am

@OP: Don't you have some personal investment in your name? It's not like it's a shirt that you can change whenever it suits you (or at least I don't feel that way). Granted I don't have a name that people mispronounce, but I have a (likely somewhat irrational) attachment to my name just because it's what people have always called me. I wouldn't change it for even a 5-10% boost in OCI chances. Though if my biglaw job was contingent on me changing my name I'd likely succumb at that point. We don't know your name, but honestly I wouldn't change it. The people doing the hiring are biglaw partners and associates in major metropolitan areas. They work with clients of varying nationalities and likely won't judge you for your name (or at least I don't think they would). I imagine anybody who's going to judge you for your name likely would do so merely based on your ethnicity. Heck GULC even has a database of the correct pronunciations of various biglaw firms whose names are all made up of mostly European last names to help law students say it right. (LinkRemoved) I just don't see it being worth it to change your name.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:11 am

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:Standard convention is to put the American version of how to pronounce your name in parenthesis in your resume. Does your name have a more americanized version?

Example: Yehonatan (Jonathan) Smith


Nope. My name sadly does not sound like a Western name. The only thing it's good for is people telling me "oh, that's pretty", but usually it's creepers/awkward people, so I don't take this as any kind of fact.

Does putting how to pronounce it actually cancel out any bad effects it may have, though? Or is it really not a big deal?

bk1 wrote:@OP: Don't you have some personal investment in your name? It's not like it's a shirt that you can change whenever it suits you (or at least I don't feel that way). Granted I don't have a name that people mispronounce, but I have a (likely somewhat irrational) attachment to my name just because it's what people have always called me. I wouldn't change it for even a 5-10% boost in OCI chances. Though if my biglaw job was contingent on me changing my name I'd likely succumb at that point. We don't know your name, but honestly I wouldn't change it. The people doing the hiring are biglaw partners and associates in major metropolitan areas. They work with clients of varying nationalities and likely won't judge you for your name (or at least I don't think they would). I imagine anybody who's going to judge you for your name likely would do so merely based on your ethnicity. Heck GULC even has a database of the correct pronunciations of various biglaw firms whose names are all made up of mostly European last names to help law students say it right. (LinkRemoved) I just don't see it being worth it to change your name.


I know what you mean. That is probably the biggest reason I haven't changed it so far, despite the fact that I know many people who have done it seamlessly. After a while it's just 'me', and my closest friends always recoil when I mention changing my name because it's what they know me as. BUT having lived with a name like this (lord, I sound like I'm asking for pity or something, but that ain't it), it's really kind of a sting every time someone mispronounces it. Or maybe doesn't talk to me with a nametag on b/c they aren't sure if I speak English. Ok I don't know if this last thing has happened but somehow I don't doubt it. I feel like Asians, especially in my generation, tend to think of people with an Asian name as particularly fobby, but maybe I know too many assholes (then again, the world is full of them)? I can't imagine WASPs being that much more forgiving.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby kaiser » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:17 am

Just put an Americanized name in parenthesis, like some other people mentioned. Thats what most of my friends did for college. Their "official" names never changed. They just started using what amounts to a nickname to avoid the very problems you are describing.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:21 am

kaiser wrote:Just put an Americanized name in parenthesis, like some other people mentioned. Thats what most of my friends did for college. Their "official" names never changed. They just started using what amounts to a nickname to avoid the very problems you are describing.


Even if I did this, isn't it kind of awkward that I would be known by my Asian name to people in law school while applying for jobs with an effectively different name? Or is it not a big deal? Seems like it might cause a good amount of confusion down the road? I honestly don't know so if you have any insight I'd love to hear it.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby bk1 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:I know what you mean. That is probably the biggest reason I haven't changed it so far, despite the fact that I know many people who have done it seamlessly. After a while it's just 'me', and my closest friends always recoil when I mention changing my name because it's what they know me as. BUT having lived with a name like this (lord, I sound like I'm asking for pity or something, but that ain't it), it's really kind of a sting every time someone mispronounces it. Or maybe doesn't talk to me with a nametag on b/c they aren't sure if I speak English. Ok I don't know if this last thing has happened but somehow I don't doubt it. I feel like Asians, especially in my generation, tend to think of people with an Asian name as particularly fobby, but maybe I know too many assholes (then again, the world is full of them)? I can't imagine WASPs being that much more forgiving.


I don't think it's fair to attribute the views of your Asian peers/relatives to biglaw hiring partners whether they are WASPs or not. These people are in the 1%, they deal with clients all the time, and they have to act professional among other things. I would imagine that most of the people you know aren't as well off as these people are, they haven't made a living out of placating clients and bringing in business, and have generally been young students.

I also think it's unfair to say that WASPs (or any other established group) in this country are going to take the same view as the Asians you know. Keep in mind that the people you know are likely fighting to disassociate themselves from their heritage so that they can assimilate (which is why they view your name as fobby compared to anglicized names). I highly doubt that 40+ year old biglaw hiring partners have an urge like that at all.

One last thing I would note is that there has been a large influx of Asians into the ranks of incoming biglaw associates (check NALP, they make up a decent proportion at a lot of firms). So I don't think it is as much of an issue as you make it out to be. Undoubtedly the hiring partners at whatever firm you apply to have had to deal with names that they find hard to pronounce. As long as you don't take offense to their initial pronunciations, which since you've dealt with it so often it doesn't seem that you do, I don't think it's that much of an issue.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby anli » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:27 am

OP, send me a PM.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:30 am

bk1 wrote:I don't think it's fair to attribute the views of your Asian peers/relatives to biglaw hiring partners whether they are WASPs or not. These people are in the 1%, they deal with clients all the time, and they have to act professional among other things. I would imagine that most of the people you know aren't as well off as these people are, they haven't made a living out of placating clients and bringing in business, and have generally been young students.

I also think it's unfair to say that WASPs (or any other established group) in this country are going to take the same view as the Asians you know. Keep in mind that the people you know are likely fighting to disassociate themselves from their heritage so that they can assimilate (which is why they view your name as fobby compared to anglicized names). I highly doubt that 40+ year old biglaw hiring partners have an urge like that at all.

One last thing I would note is that there has been a large influx of Asians into the ranks of incoming biglaw associates (check NALP, they make up a decent proportion at a lot of firms). So I don't think it is as much of an issue as you make it out to be. Undoubtedly the hiring partners at whatever firm you apply to have had to deal with names that they find hard to pronounce. As long as you don't take offense to their initial pronunciations, which since you've dealt with it so often it doesn't seem that you do, I don't think it's that much of an issue.


I see your point. And yeah, you're right that 40+ biglaw partners are probably more tolerant. Then again (and I'm not trying to dispute your point, just wondering what you think), my current-generation peers are the ones I will be working with as time goes by. I would hope they'd judge less as they get more experience through life, rather than cast a bad shadow. I personally don't care about these things much at all (again, why I haven't changed my name). There definitely exists a pressure to assimilate with an Americanized name, though. I think I know just one other person who never changed her name, and hers isn't terribly difficult to pronounce. I don't care if I FEEL behind the curve, but if I actually AM behind it in some way, that would, to put it delicately, suck.

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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby bk1 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:I see your point. And yeah, you're right that 40+ biglaw partners are probably more tolerant. Then again (and I'm not trying to dispute your point, just wondering what you think), my current-generation peers are the ones I will be working with as time goes by. I would hope they'd judge less as they get more experience through life, rather than cast a bad shadow. I personally don't care about these things much at all (again, why I haven't changed my name). There definitely exists a pressure to assimilate with an Americanized name, though. I think I know just one other person who never changed her name, and hers isn't terribly difficult to pronounce. I don't care if I FEEL behind the curve, but if I actually AM behind it in some way, that would, to put it delicately, suck.


Hopefully your current peers will be actual adults by the time you work with them and not petulant children. But in any case they won't be the ones making hiring decisions (at least not initially) so it's not like it'll hurt your chances.




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