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

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

Postby paratactical » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:38 am

In the NYC firm I worked for, several Asian associates I worked with would use their birth names at the firm but had an "American" name they gave to clients. It's one thing to get the secretarial pool to pronounce your name correctly, but it's harder to ask client reps to figure those things out. I don't know if that's helpful or not, but at least know that picking an American nickname isn't the death of your real name.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:
lonerider wrote: When I see a name I don't recognize, I am curious about where it comes from and I will ask about it. I don't understand why that would bother people, but on the other hand if they didn't want to talk about it I won't press it.



I can't speak for everyone, but it really does bother me. It made me feel like I was an object on display, not like a regular person. Someone else similar situated would go through an introduction and normal small talk would proceed. Whereas I was expected to have to explain my life history to a stranger. These things are personal and I do think it's a type of privilege if you've never had to experience being treated as an exotic thing rather than a person. It can make a person very self-conscious and puts someone on the spot when they'd rather just chat about the weather or something benign like you'd do with any other person. Since I've changed my name, I don't have to go through the interrogation when I meet someone new, and it's been such a relief. Also, some of those situations were in employment or housing where it's impermissible to ask about national origin, and asking about my name allowed them to do so, but I didn't want to refuse to answer because I really wanted the job. It's more difficult than you would know.


Well, I am one of those Chinese who has a "z" in my first name (to be exact, my given name). I was in the similar situation as OP before I filed for legal name change. I changed my name primarily because self-conscious reasons as OP mentioned. I don't appreciate my interviewers asking me whether I am a US citizen/American, even though I clearly indicated so in my resume and speak, ehh you know, "perfect American English". I don't appreciate my HR manager calling me to ask what "student visa" I am on since she misplaced my employment documents. I don't appreciate this type of conversation when I try to chat with another legal professional (I got it quite a bit):

Me: "Hello. My name is Zxxxx, nice to meet you."
Person: "John Smith here. Nice to meet you too. Where are you from?"
Me: (wink, wink) "Ohio."
Person: "Oh..." (wink, wink) "Where are you originally from?"
Me: "My parents are from China..."
Person: "Yeah! My husband/wife/cousin/co-worker etc. has been to (insert an obscure Chinese city other than Beijing or Shanghai), and he/she had that (insert an obscure Chinese food) over there..."

Since I legally changed my name, none of the above or similar incidents have happened. I don't blame them, or I should say I don't blame their subconsciousness. However, I don't appreciate being perceived or handled like an exotic being, even though I am just as "American" as they are. I can't alter their subconsciousness, so I did myself a favor and changed my name.

This is just me. Others in the similar situation may handle it differently. To all those who consider changing their names: do it as early as possible (high school, college, pre-employment etc.).

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

Postby rayiner » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:
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.


It's not a big deal. I started going by a nickname in law school because I got tired of that little name pronouncing ceremony the first time meeting new people. It worked out really well. I'd definitely recommend that instead of actual name changing. People go by different names all the time (lots of Americans go by their middle name, especially WASPs whose parents gave them an insufferable first name).

I don't think you need to get sociological about it. People don't consciously discriminate against foreigners these days. It's just that when you get into an interview, you got to stay on message. That message is about why you're so awesome. That detour about where your parents came from is a distraction and waste of time.
Last edited by rayiner on Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sherlock1708
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Sherlock1708 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:06 am

Can you use an English nickname in quotations so you don't need to legally change your name? My boyfriend is a "III" so his parents called him "Skip" and had his teachers put this on his report cards, etc. He always hated the name so went by his real name in college, even though some people already knew him by Skip. We are in our late 20s but all of his friends from high school still call him Skip, even though his co-workers call him by his real name. I have seen a few Asian attorneys with an English name in quotations on their law firm bios. I do agree with you that it would probably be easier for other people if you chose an English name, but do you really want to do this? If you are doing it because you think people won't think you are FOB, it likely won't change anything. I am Asian but am adopted (parents are white) so I have a white sounding first name and last name... This confuses people even more and they just assume I am married. Even though English is the ONLY language I speak (and I have no accent whatsoever) a lot of people assume I grew up in Asia because I'm Asian, or they thought I was an exchange student when I was growing up... You will always run into ignorant people so only give yourself an English name if you want it, not to make it easier for other people.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:00 pm

OP here.

The 'good-looking' letters didn't mean my name would be XXX or something, not even close. It's just that any shortening/abbreviation would really not help in this unique situation. Sorry I can't get into it more w/o more specifics. Also, again, my name sounds nothing like something that can be Westernized. I know people who have my Asian name and their American names are random.

I've already graduated from college. No middle name, either.

I think the consensus in this thread is that either way, it's best to adopt some kind of nickname for hiring purposes, and might as well go into law school introducing yourself as this name? My question is if it's worth it to bite the bullet and change everything legally now while I have some time.

And as far 'do I really want to do this' - it may seem weird, but I don't really care. I'm not that attached to my name as a symbol of 'me' or something. I am comfortable with who I am and it doesn't really matter what people call me, as long as it isn't something unpleasant. "What's in a name?" is right. I understand that close friends might see me as insecure for caving in this late, but them telling me 'Oh, don't change it!' or treating it as a joke has lead me to this point, so maybe I need to just disregard it. My family will not care.

One last thing. It may be pedantic, but as long as I have a kind audience - is it better to write your name like: Joan XXX LastName, XXX LastName (Joan), or XXX "Joan" LastName?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Postby de5igual » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here.

The 'good-looking' letters didn't mean my name would be XXX or something, not even close. It's just that any shortening/abbreviation would really not help in this unique situation. Sorry I can't get into it more w/o more specifics. Also, again, my name sounds nothing like something that can be Westernized. I know people who have my Asian name and their American names are random.

The thing about the exoticism thing is that I actually WASN'T born here and have spent a good amount of time abroad. Just not enough to be completely fluent in more languages. I think that's messed me up a little, too, in thinking that everyone is as culturally aware as the people I've been close to. It's not fun to say "Yes, I actually AM from another country..." and listen to someone blab about that while I identify as American. I'm not THAT bothered by this, though, relatively speaking, compared to USA-born Asians, because at the end of the day, I wasn't born here. You can tell when people are ignorant and when they mean well. Either way, I just kind of shut it down and change the subject, so I agree about the 'on-message' thing. As far as in-person interviewing, I've very rarely not been hired, so I can't imagine it has hurt. However, obviously this doesn't work if we are not meeting in person, and so many first impressions will actually be made online/via a piece of paper. In that respect, I don't know how much my name has hurt me in the past.

I think the consensus in this thread is that either way, it's best to adopt some kind of nickname for hiring purposes, and might as well go into law school introducing yourself as this name? My question is if it's worth it to bite the bullet and change everything legally now while I have some time.

And as far 'do I really want to do this' - it may seem weird, but I don't really care. I'm not that attached to my name as a symbol of 'me' or something. I am comfortable with who I am and it doesn't really matter what people call me, as long as it isn't something unpleasant. "What's in a name?" is right. I understand that close friends might see me as insecure for caving in this late, but them telling me 'Oh, don't change it!' or treating it as a joke has lead me to this point, so maybe I need to just disregard it. My family will not care.

One last thing. It may be pedantic, but as long as I have a kind audience - is it better to write your name like: Joan XXX LastName, XXX LastName (Joan), or XXX "Joan" LastName?


For nicknames, it's usually XXX "Joan" Lastname, but I've also seen Joan (XXX) Lastname

Either way, I think HR would know what you meant.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:06 pm

Different anonymous person here. Not an Asian female, a guy.

A few years ago, I felt like the other anonymous person, and legally changed my name a few years ago in college, before my senior year.
My name change was something like (obviously not my real old name or new name):
Telotroloru Telolankifoshu Sanchon (people just called me a short form, like "Telo") to Daniel Telo Sanchon, and now everyone calls me Dan or Danny.

Is it uncommon to do? Absolutely. Does it make you feel weird for a while? Yep. Might friends not totally adapt? Yes. In fact I had a bit of social anxiety as a result for a little while because I felt embarrassed initially. Is it worth it? For me, definitely!

I didn't speak the language my name is from or ever really live in the country where the language is spoken -- my parents were raised there but I'm American first and foremost and I don't have a real connection to that heritage (not ashamed of it, but not really looking toward it for anything). People always said "ooh, what an interesting name" and asked about my background when meeting me, as if the real me was zipped into some sort of skin first. It bothered me quite a bit. I'm also fairly political and I felt like my name was a hindrance in doing political things -- not because of other people's reactions, but because it seemed to differentiate me so much from the people I interacted with or represented and I did not like that feeling -- and again, that came from inside me, not from other people (others usually thought my name was so "cool").

It cost a bit to do legally -- court paper submission, waiting for that to come back, new license, passport, going to the bank with the court order to change it all, calling up high schools and faxing over the order so that I could have my name on my transcripts updated, doing the same with LSAC and schools, etc. etc. Little things like changing my computer username and my school email, etc.

Still worth it. It may make you feel awkward for a while until you move or change schools or something, because some people won't know you've changed it and it may feel weird to explain. Facebook helps. Still, it's a good move for me, and when I start law school or move or whatever, I won't even have to worry about the awkwardness of the change. Also, as far as professors/employers from the past -- it's no big deal! Shoot them an email to say hello and let them know in a brief sentence or two: "I legally changed my name to X Lastname, so employers will call in reference to that." This is not the most uncommon thing to happen in the world, so don't freak out!

It's OK to want to do this and to do it. I just recommend that if and when you do, pick one of the top 30 or at least top 50 most common names in American in the year of your birth, and don't go by a nickname -- I had a lot of people start calling me Danny but I realized later I prefer Dan haha. Anyway, that's my story, hope it helps.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:12 pm

One other thing....

Re:
And as far 'do I really want to do this' - it may seem weird, but I don't really care. I'm not that attached to my name as a symbol of 'me' or something. I am comfortable with who I am and it doesn't really matter what people call me, as long as it isn't something unpleasant. "What's in a name?" is right. I understand that close friends might see me as insecure for caving in this late, but them telling me 'Oh, don't change it!' or treating it as a joke has lead me to this point, so maybe I need to just disregard it. My family will not care.

Your real friends won't see you as insecure and will respect you and adjust. Seriously. Who is anyone to judge? The Johns and Davids would so not get it, and you've got to do you. They don't have to deal with being a Zxxandaagggg or whatever, so they don't get to really judge you for becoming a Diana or Catherine or whatever.

If you legally change it (or even if you don't) when you list it (on resumes, linkedin, facebook, applications) I would just do Newname X. Lastname where the X is the inital of your foreign name.

Oh other things -- I'm partial to a legal change because some schools may not change their records without you showing that first document that you've submitted a name change application (just show them that even if you don't have the final order yet, the secretary won't know the difference lol and it will save you having to wait). Plus it's easier because then you can change all of your IDs and Credit Cards and everything and actually adopt it fully and internally in a way you might not if you still carry around things with your foreign name all day and have to show them.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:20 pm

OP, as another Asian with a confusing name, I feel ya. It's a huge pain in the ass, especially when people call you on the phone and mangle your name, or you have to give information over the phone and people can't spell your name and you have to go "A as in Alpha, B as in Bravo..." etc.

Really wish I just "John Smith" sometimes.

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

Postby laxbrah420 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:23 pm

I'm thinking you should put it like:
Sertejsvevxbanli (Desirée) Nguyen

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:54 pm

Yeah, I still say go with Desiree S. Nguyen.

Except don't go with Desiree. If you want something digestible and appropriate (remember, you don't get two shots at this really), pick something that was common in the year of your birth.

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

Postby théo » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:02 pm

Since you don't have a middle name, how about adding a Western-sounding middle name if you get a legal name change? Then you could go by your middle name professionally while maintaining your first name legally. You could list it on your resume F. Scott Fitzgerald-style.

Alternatively, you could change your first name but make your current Asian name your middle name legally. Remember that you can pretty much do whatever you want when you get a legal name change, so it's not like you have to get rid of your current first name entirely.

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

Postby bartleby » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:18 pm

i don't think i would. fuck that. i'd only change my last name if i was male and first name was "Hung" because i think it'd be one of those ongoing jokes forever. "Hi, I'm Hung."

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:29 pm

I'm in a similar boat with a hard to pronounce Asian name, but I've got a nickname I use. I kept my original name because it makes me easier to Google. If you search for my nickname, you get at least two other lawyers with the exact same name. I also like throwing people off.

I'd say do what you want - in this day and age, an Asian name isn't necessarily a liability. I don't know what your background is exactly, but a lot of law firms are interested in expanding into Asia, and it's easier to hire someone who already has some cultural background and language skills than to train someone from scratch as to the niceties of a foreign culture.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:52 pm

I know at least two people who did this, one preemptively before entering law school and one out of frustration during first semester. (He sent around a pretty funny e-mail.) Both of them went with Joan XXXX Nguyen rather than XXXX "Joan" Nguyen. I think the former is a lot better, because the latter makes it 100% obvious that you've adopted a Western name for the ease of others, which means the name change only solves half of your problem.

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

Postby chaoticreassembly » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:58 pm

If you're really that concerned about it or if you don't like your name, you can change it. But if you are overly concerned about offending your family or betraying your identity, definitely don't do it.

I had a legal change because I had the same name as a very famous author. I didn't want a name already so immediately identified with someone other than me, and I think the nickname I've always used actually sounds awkward when it's used in conjunction with my father's last name. My dad had no problem with it at all, and the change wasn't that dramatic since I technically kept his name - it's just hyphenated with my mother's maiden first.

Some people think this is vain or weird, but your name is your identity. It has to represent who you are. In my case, I didn't want a name that would get in the way of people treating me seriously as a professional.

Good luck with the decision!

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

Postby Master Tofu » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:14 am

OP,

I'll throw my towel in with the "Keep your name" crowd.

Judging from your posts, the name-change is really not anything ground-breaking, only to avoid the nuisance of having to explain your name from time to time. After you change your name, you will still have the nuisance of explaining your name change to people you know.

I'd say it washes out and you stay with inertia. If you had an Americanized name that you had been using already, then that would be different. It is way too much work otherwise.

Doesn't matter how rare or unusual your name is, if you can take the time to learn someone's name, then they ought to do the same as well. I think you will find that people are fairly sensitive to this fact. Common decency doesn't go away just because you're in the legal profession.

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

Postby Tom Joad » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:41 am

Borhas wrote:Should you? If you don't mind disgracing your family and going through the hassle then go for it. I recommend a thoroughly American name like Jessie Cheeseburger.

You got me at that one.

Also, my last name is terrible but it has been a little better since a semi-famous athlete with the same last name broke out.
Last edited by Tom Joad on Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Br3v
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Re: hard to pronounce asian name - name change for legal hiring?

Postby Br3v » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:44 am

Came to say do not change your name. You are you. Your family name helps define who you are. Don't change your name for a job.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:48 pm

Same situation as OP but I thought changing my name would be a hassle so I always do "American name (original Asian name) Original Last Name," works very well.

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

Postby DrGuano » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:04 pm

kaiser wrote:Let me guess: Nguyen


I used to think this was pronounced Win. There was a guy on the Cowboys, Dat Nguyen who pronounced it that way. But then I recently watched a TV show where a chef was named Nguyen, yet pronounced it "Gwen." As if I wasn't confused enough, I was told by an Asian friend that it's actually properly pronounced Neh-goo-yen. Seriously?? What's the right way? Is there a right way??

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

Postby crit_racer » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:36 pm

Change your first name to Learned

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

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:13 pm

Asian female here.

I have two X's in my legal first name. It sounds great in Chinese but obviously I ditched it when my family immigrated. In undergrad, I noticed that when I'm screening resumes even for student organizations, people with ethnic names made less of an impression on me because I couldn't pronounce/remember their names and as a result couldn't remember THEM.

All my legal documents have my official foreign name, but 99% of my friends know me only by my American name. Haven't really ran into problems. It might be weird if you do a name change at first but test the waters by changing it on Facebook to "Sydney LegalName Lastname" or something. Your friends will get used to it.

Another reason you want to adopt an American name is for work. Every time a colleague types your email address, you don't want them searching the directory for a complicated name. You want sydney.lastname@lawfirm.com and not xawejflaskd.lastname@lawfirm.com. Only HR needs to know your actual name for tax purposes.

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

Postby roaringeagle » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:20 pm

I have a weird name that people mispronounce. Worse, it means something else in English. I have been considering adopting a legal name, but i don't know the ramifications.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:26 pm

Asian male here. I also have a hard to pronounce first name that often takes several tries for people to get, and most people never get it right. Additionally, people mistakenly call me a common American name instead sometimes as it sounds similar... so I've adopted that name as my American name.

Going into law school and into the professional world, I have decided to use that American name for my professional name both in lawl school and for my future work. It is weird because all of my friends from college and high school know me as my Asian name and have no problems with it, but I have found that it does have an affect in the larger professional world.

I have decided to go the route of not changing it officially, but perhaps I will legally add it as my middle name in the future. That way I can do something like this:

Firstname (Newname) Lastname
F. Newname Lastname

So I'd sign things like that: F. Newname Lastname. And for facebook, just add the new American name into the middle.




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