which language?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
User avatar
swtlilsoni
Posts: 399
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:00 am

which language?

Postby swtlilsoni » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:54 pm

I'm going to be learning a language this summer - either Italian or German but open to other ideas.
I don't really care which one..I already speak French so I thought Italian might be easier, and I also know more people who speak it. But I like German too so I'm okay with both.

So I thought I could factor this into my decision:
which one would firms value more for OCI this fall?

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: which language?

Postby rad lulz » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:04 am

From just what you learn this summer?

No firms will care.

User avatar
swtlilsoni
Posts: 399
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:00 am

Re: which language?

Postby swtlilsoni » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:17 am

rad lulz wrote:From just what you learn this summer?

No firms will care.


I've had interviewers comment on my French ability though. One even gave an anecdote on how one of their attorneys speaks french and it came in handy with a particular client..

de5igual
Posts: 1463
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:52 pm

Re: which language?

Postby de5igual » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:33 am

swtlilsoni wrote:
rad lulz wrote:From just what you learn this summer?

No firms will care.


I've had interviewers comment on my French ability though. One even gave an anecdote on how one of their attorneys speaks french and it came in handy with a particular client..


so unless you'll be beyond native-level fluent (as in, able to read a contract in that language and elaborate on it) by the end of the summer, no one will care

User avatar
swtlilsoni
Posts: 399
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:00 am

Re: which language?

Postby swtlilsoni » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:40 am

okay..so out of curiosity..which language would a firm value more assuming the person was fluent? do firms generally tend to deal more with countries that speak italian or german? i guess another factor to consider would be whether germans or italians are more likely to be fluent in english as well (because if they are, the language skills are less valuable)

User avatar
patrickd139
Posts: 2883
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:53 pm

Re: which language?

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:47 am

swtlilsoni wrote:okay..so out of curiosity..which language would a firm value more assuming the person was fluent? do firms generally tend to deal more with countries that speak italian or german? i guess another factor to consider would be whether germans or italians are more likely to be fluent in english as well (because if they are, the language skills are less valuable)

Neither.

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Spanish are the only languages that would be worth your time for those reasons.

User avatar
Ave
Posts: 291
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:00 pm

Re: which language?

Postby Ave » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:03 am

This is from S&C's page on paralegal hiring (of course, this bears little to no weight for OCI but language fluency doesn't have much weight for it either anyways):

Candidates who are fluent in one or more foreign languages are particularly encouraged to apply. The foreign languages most important to the firm’s practice include:

Spanish
French
German
Italian
Portuguese
Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)
Japanese
Russian
Korean

User avatar
IrwinM.Fletcher
Posts: 1195
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:55 pm

Re: which language?

Postby IrwinM.Fletcher » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:09 am

patrickd139 wrote:
swtlilsoni wrote:okay..so out of curiosity..which language would a firm value more assuming the person was fluent? do firms generally tend to deal more with countries that speak italian or german? i guess another factor to consider would be whether germans or italians are more likely to be fluent in english as well (because if they are, the language skills are less valuable)

Neither.

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Spanish are the only languages that would be worth your time for those reasons.


This. Maybe throw in Portuguese if you're looking at firms who do energy work. But nobody will care that you speak German or Italian unless you specifically go work for a Magic Circle firm or something.

And even then, you're not going to be proficient enough by the time you graduate to actually read contracts in those languages. So you should pick one you like and hope to use in travel, etc. because the odds of ever using it in a legal setting are extremely minimal.

Myself
Posts: 1372
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:36 pm

.

Postby Myself » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:32 am

.
Last edited by Myself on Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: which language?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:08 am

Are you actually fluent in French? You'd be better off perfecting one language than trying to learn a second. Or learning something actually related to the law.

User avatar
guano
Posts: 2268
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 am

Re: which language?

Postby guano » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:19 am

One firm I spoke with specifically mentioned Mongolian.

If you are into cross-border business and M&A, the current big ones are mandarin, Arabic and Russian, with Spanish and Portuguese thrown in for good measure, but there are plenty of people speaking those languages.

More likely to be a big deal, but for only a handful of firms, are languages like Indonesian, Vietnamese, Kazakh and Thai, which are current emerging markets with lots of potential and which language proficiency in the US, or English proficiency locally, is much rarer

User avatar
JamMasterJ
Posts: 6688
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: which language?

Postby JamMasterJ » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:22 am

Ave wrote:This is from S&C's page on paralegal hiring (of course, this bears little to no weight for OCI but language fluency doesn't have much weight for it either anyways):

Candidates who are fluent in one or more foreign languages are particularly encouraged to apply. The foreign languages most important to the firm’s practice include:

Spanish
French
German
Italian
Portuguese
Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)
Japanese
Russian
Korean

came here to post that these are the only relevant ones (unless you have a firm with a randomly huge element of law in a non-listed language-speaking location

User avatar
guano
Posts: 2268
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 am

Re: which language?

Postby guano » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:30 am

I can't imagine German making any difference whatsoever

User avatar
clarion
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:53 pm

Re: which language?

Postby clarion » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:25 pm

Disclaimer: I'm a current 1L, so my opinion on this MAY change after going through the 2L summer job search process.

Nonetheless, I speak Italian, and so as someone who has been on the lookout for such things during my 1L job search, there DO seem to be plenty of biglaw firms with offices in Italy, particularly in Milan. That said, I'm considering learning French or some other language because Italian doesn't really seem to provide all that much value outside of "oh. You speak another language. Good for you!" and giving me a talking point which usually consists of "I'm not as good at it as I once was." And since you already have at least that much going for you by virtue of speaking one language, I'd say going for more practical, yet somewhat less-commonly spoken languages like Mandarin, Arabic or Portuguese would be ideal. I definitely wouldn't choose German over Italian, though admittedly I'm a bit biased :p

Real Madrid
Posts: 835
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:21 am

Re: which language?

Postby Real Madrid » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:16 am

rad lulz wrote:From just what you learn this summer?

No firms will care.


This. So much this.

No offense to OP, but I get so annoyed when people list language skills in Spanish, French, whatever on their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, etc. after taking a few semesters of that language in college. If you put this typical "Spanish" speaker into an actual conversation between natives in Spain, 95% of the time they wouldn´t have a CLUE what was going on. (I also get equally annoyed with the "I don´t speak X language very well but I understand everything. Uh huh).

OP, don´t waste your time. Unless you plan on living in Italy, Germany or wherever else for a few years and actually immersing yourself in the language, these skills will not be useful.

User avatar
guano
Posts: 2268
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 am

Re: which language?

Postby guano » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:08 am

Real Madrid wrote:(I also get equally annoyed with the "I don´t speak X language very well but I understand everything. Uh huh).

I can read Danish and German, but can't speak or understand them. Come at me

User avatar
clarion
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:53 pm

Re: which language?

Postby clarion » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:47 pm

Real Madrid wrote:
rad lulz wrote:From just what you learn this summer?

No firms will care.


This. So much this.

No offense to OP, but I get so annoyed when people list language skills in Spanish, French, whatever on their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, etc. after taking a few semesters of that language in college. If you put this typical "Spanish" speaker into an actual conversation between natives in Spain, 95% of the time they wouldn´t have a CLUE what was going on. (I also get equally annoyed with the "I don´t speak X language very well but I understand everything. Uh huh).

OP, don´t waste your time. Unless you plan on living in Italy, Germany or wherever else for a few years and actually immersing yourself in the language, these skills will not be useful.


Um... you surely don't have to travel to a country to become fluent in that language if you have a knack for learning them (as well as internet access to watch movies/tv shows or listen to music in that language). Especially since this is not just the second language OP will have learned, I'm pretty sure you're preaching to the choir about what degree of exposure is necessary to gain proficiency/fluency. On that same note, being proficient in two languages (especially if you put on your resume "Proficient in Italian" rather than saying "fluent in Italian") is better than only speaking English. You can even put things like "proficient in reading and writing Italian" which might be useful if you're doing transactional/judicial work and your firm/judge needs a document translated. Still more valuable than just speaking English.

Furthermore, speaking a language and understanding that language are NOT one in the same. I have plenty of friends from high school and before then who grew up with parents who speak Spanish and English, and thus understand Spanish perfectly well, but just can't speak it all that well since they rarely have to. Even from personal experience, I can still understand Italian well enough (though, admittedly, intensely conversational Italian sometimes eludes me), but am having a more and more difficult time speaking it because I rarely practice and am losing my ability to quickly identify which word/tense/structure to use. That has nothing to do however with being able to understand someone else who uses the proper words/tenses/structures at the proper times. Also, if you've ever taken Latin (I did in high school), you know that reading Latin and translating it to English is an ENTIRELY different animal from translating something from English to Latin: Surely an exceptional example, but still true.

So yeah, you're kinda overstating things. Nonetheless, OP probably knows what fluency requires, so I won't harp on it any longer.

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

Re: which language?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:24 am

portuguese. the brazilian economy is exploding, those who know portuguese fared better than the should have during campus interviews. like a lot better. like should have gotten v100 and got v20.

MinEMorris
Posts: 228
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:26 am

Re: which language?

Postby MinEMorris » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:05 am

from what I've heard, the two most important things about a second language for law firm purposes are doc review and client interaction. Client interaction is something that I think most firms don't start worrying about until you're more advanced in your career, so I would give the conversational skills necessary for that even less weight than the reading/writing skills required for doc review. If your language skills aren't good enough for either of those things, though, I think you can feel pretty certain that the firm won't attach much weight to your language skills.

One secondary thing that language skills are good for is demonstrating an interest in living and working abroad. If your firm is serious about populating an overseas office, the time you've spent learning the language and presumably learning about the culture could demonstrate something meaningful to them: it could show ability and an informed willingness to live and work in the place. Obviously, the number of overseas offices that are looking for fresh 2L/3Ls are limited.

It's worth appreciating, by the way, that just because you get asked about something during an interview doesn't mean that they care about it. People with language skills on their resume are often asked about it simply because it stands out or it's something the interviewers have in common with them. Even when they ask you about your skills, interviewers are more often looking for conversation fodder than they are trying to evaluate the worth of your abilities.

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: which language?

Postby cinephile » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:25 am

clarion wrote:
Um... you surely don't have to travel to a country to become fluent in that language if you have a knack for learning them (as well as internet access to watch movies/tv shows or listen to music in that language).


I disagree. The language you learn from software and textbooks and literature and courses is nothing at all like the language as it is spoken by native speakers. To truly be fluent, you need to be able to speak in the vernacular and that means breaking the rules of grammar sometimes. But you won't know this without living there and having constant interaction with native speakers from different walks of life, since teenagers will speak differently than businessmen who'll speak differently than your plumber. You need to interact with all of these people and piece it all together.

User avatar
HankBashir
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:01 am

Re: which language?

Postby HankBashir » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:31 am

cinephile wrote:
clarion wrote:
Um... you surely don't have to travel to a country to become fluent in that language if you have a knack for learning them (as well as internet access to watch movies/tv shows or listen to music in that language).


I disagree. The language you learn from software and textbooks and literature and courses is nothing at all like the language as it is spoken by native speakers. To truly be fluent, you need to be able to speak in the vernacular and that means breaking the rules of grammar sometimes. But you won't know this without living there and having constant interaction with native speakers from different walks of life, since teenagers will speak differently than businessmen who'll speak differently than your plumber. You need to interact with all of these people and piece it all together.


Pretty much this. Also, fluency is such an overused word. I think scales like the ILR scale are far more useful. Using said scale, you could probably hit professional working proficiency without having ever set foot in the country and using media from said country, but you couldn't come anywere close to levels 4 or 5 without having spent time in the country.

User avatar
clarion
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:53 pm

Re: which language?

Postby clarion » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:35 am

HankBashir wrote:
cinephile wrote:
clarion wrote:
Um... you surely don't have to travel to a country to become fluent in that language if you have a knack for learning them (as well as internet access to watch movies/tv shows or listen to music in that language).


I disagree. The language you learn from software and textbooks and literature and courses is nothing at all like the language as it is spoken by native speakers. To truly be fluent, you need to be able to speak in the vernacular and that means breaking the rules of grammar sometimes. But you won't know this without living there and having constant interaction with native speakers from different walks of life, since teenagers will speak differently than businessmen who'll speak differently than your plumber. You need to interact with all of these people and piece it all together.


Pretty much this. Also, fluency is such an overused word. I think scales like the ILR scale are far more useful. Using said scale, you could probably hit professional working proficiency without having ever set foot in the country and using media from said country, but you couldn't come anywere close to levels 4 or 5 without having spent time in the country.


Stop treating my comment as if I invoked some reasonable man standard. I'm speaking subjectively. First of all, regarding the bolded in Bashir's comment, that's exactly what I said. I don't think EVERYONE has to do both in order to get to what that (somewhat vague) scale says is level 4 if you're also speaking the language with friends, colleagues, professors, get a major/minor in the language, etc. I'm not speaking in absolutes here. I'm simply saying that based on a) my own experience with learning another language, and b) the benefits of already speaking a similar language, a person like OP does not HAVE to travel to that country to learn the language. OP might need to, but if OP's good with French, then I think he/she is capable of making that determination for him/herself.

And cinephile's comment COMPLETELY ignored the parenthetical phrase that he/she actually quoted lol (Which I suppose makes sense seeing as how lawyers and judges alike often glaze over parentheticals...) In particular I'm referencing how cinephile mentions software, textbooks and literature, while I mentioned "movies/tv shows" and music. You can also add to my list YouTube clips featuring, for example, an interview with your favorite Italian pop music duo. Not to mention if you're in class learning a language for fun (as I was), you're probably talking to classmates in the language, some of whom at the higher levels are more proficient/fluent than others. But yes, I'd agree that just exposing oneself to software, textbooks and literature would be insufficient in 99.9% of all cases to establish a level even relative fluency.

The point is you have to WANT to get to that higher level, it's not just gonna happen. So yes you DO need to do more than just show up to class and take the exams. But for some people, like myself, and perhaps like OP, to get to that higher level does not require a trip to a foreign country. Especially since OP said he/she has friends who speak Italian anyway.

User avatar
anon sequitur
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:14 am

Re: which language?

Postby anon sequitur » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:28 pm

Nothing brings out snobbery more quickly than language learners and their exacting standards for other people's fluency.

Real Madrid
Posts: 835
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:21 am

Re: which language?

Postby Real Madrid » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:18 pm

clarion wrote:
HankBashir wrote:
cinephile wrote:
clarion wrote:
Um... you surely don't have to travel to a country to become fluent in that language if you have a knack for learning them (as well as internet access to watch movies/tv shows or listen to music in that language).


I disagree. The language you learn from software and textbooks and literature and courses is nothing at all like the language as it is spoken by native speakers. To truly be fluent, you need to be able to speak in the vernacular and that means breaking the rules of grammar sometimes. But you won't know this without living there and having constant interaction with native speakers from different walks of life, since teenagers will speak differently than businessmen who'll speak differently than your plumber. You need to interact with all of these people and piece it all together.


Pretty much this. Also, fluency is such an overused word. I think scales like the ILR scale are far more useful. Using said scale, you could probably hit professional working proficiency without having ever set foot in the country and using media from said country, but you couldn't come anywere close to levels 4 or 5 without having spent time in the country.


Stop treating my comment as if I invoked some reasonable man standard. I'm speaking subjectively. First of all, regarding the bolded in Bashir's comment, that's exactly what I said. I don't think EVERYONE has to do both in order to get to what that (somewhat vague) scale says is level 4 if you're also speaking the language with friends, colleagues, professors, get a major/minor in the language, etc. I'm not speaking in absolutes here. I'm simply saying that based on a) my own experience with learning another language, and b) the benefits of already speaking a similar language, a person like OP does not HAVE to travel to that country to learn the language. OP might need to, but if OP's good with French, then I think he/she is capable of making that determination for him/herself.

And cinephile's comment COMPLETELY ignored the parenthetical phrase that he/she actually quoted lol (Which I suppose makes sense seeing as how lawyers and judges alike often glaze over parentheticals...) In particular I'm referencing how cinephile mentions software, textbooks and literature, while I mentioned "movies/tv shows" and music. You can also add to my list YouTube clips featuring, for example, an interview with your favorite Italian pop music duo. Not to mention if you're in class learning a language for fun (as I was), you're probably talking to classmates in the language, some of whom at the higher levels are more proficient/fluent than others. But yes, I'd agree that just exposing oneself to software, textbooks and literature would be insufficient in 99.9% of all cases to establish a level even relative fluency.

The point is you have to WANT to get to that higher level, it's not just gonna happen. So yes you DO need to do more than just show up to class and take the exams. But for some people, like myself, and perhaps like OP, to get to that higher level does not require a trip to a foreign country. Especially since OP said he/she has friends who speak Italian anyway.


No, you pretty much do have to live in a foreign country and be immersed in the language to even begin to approach fluency. I majored in a foreign language, talked to fluent teachers, watched movies, etc. and thought that I had a pretty respectable level until I actually moved abroad and realized just how woefully unprepared I was to legitimately speak and understand the language as used by natives.

anon sequitur wrote:Nothing brings out snobbery more quickly than language learners and their exacting standards for other people's fluency.


Actually, you couldn't be more wrong. The people with the highest levels of fluency in a foreign language tend to be quite modest as they realize there will always be more left to learn. These people just tend to get annoyed by beginner/intermediate speakers who perhaps majored in the language, have spent no time abroad, and yet claim they "understand everything" or are at an "advanced level" when they probably couldn't hold the interest of a native for more than a couple minutes.

User avatar
anon sequitur
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:14 am

Re: which language?

Postby anon sequitur » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:24 pm

Real Madrid wrote:Actually, you couldn't be more wrong. The people with the highest levels of fluency in a foreign language tend to be quite modest as they realize there will always be more left to learn. These people just tend to get annoyed by beginner/intermediate speakers who perhaps majored in the language, have spent no time abroad, and yet claim they "understand everything" or are at an "advanced level" when they probably couldn't hold the interest of a native for more than a couple minutes.


Oh my mistake. Don't know how I could have gotten the idea it was snobbery.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.