Most useful foreign language for lawyers

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ddp
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Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby ddp » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:38 am

Anyone have any thoughts on the most useful foreign language for lawyers? Other than Spanish (I'm already fluent) would it be wiser to learn Chinese, Arabic, French, or Russian?

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mrman17
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby mrman17 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:43 am

Chinese will remain one of the most useful languages for quite some time. It's a difficult language, but if you're already bilingual it should be easier to pick up a third language. I speak Tagalog, but I haven't found any use for that language here in the US (other than putting it on my resume). I'm also considering trying to learn another language, maybe Spanish or Chinese. Life is too short or I would learn both.
Last edited by mrman17 on Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TheJudge
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby TheJudge » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:45 am

Chinese. Just because China seems to be one of the least English-fluent regions in the world. Also, their legal market will continue growing tremendously over the next decade or a little longer. So Chinese would help if you want to work there or even set up your own little firm over there.

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LawandOrder
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby LawandOrder » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:48 am

I wish I had some natural affinity for learning languages. Unfortunately I suck at it. I would love to be able to speak fluently in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, and Hebrew.

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98234872348
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby 98234872348 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:58 am

My ability to speak Chinese got me an interview with Pratt and Whitney's legal department for an 1L internship in my junior year of undergrad... Didn't get the job though :roll:

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como
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby como » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:02 am

I would say it depends. I think you can learn French much easier than any of the others you listed, so it's the more feasible one to go after next. It would be much better to be fluent in Spanish and proficient in French than to be fluent in Spanish and have a basic grasp of Chinese or Russian.

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Rsrcht
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby Rsrcht » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:05 am

The most useful language is the one you know you will need depending upon the practice and the market. There is no "best" language. If you are going to practice biglaw in the US, then English is most likely the most useful - but using your 2nd or 1st language to bring clients through the door can be very useful. If you are going to practice internationally, then the language you think will be helpful will be, but will probably not be necessary. Some small practice US lawyers who speak Spanish, specialize and support their communities and make a decent living at it because the community they support feels more comfortable coming to someone who speaks their language. There are a number of communities in the US like this, so if it appeals to you, then you have the advantage of supporting a niche market with this skill. You can still support these communities without knowing the language, but is more difficult. Acquiring a language is a large task and not something you just pick up. You invest the time to learn it and to maintain it. From a pragmatic perspective, you would need a reason to learn the language and you would need to know which one to study.

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MeanderingMatty
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby MeanderingMatty » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:07 am

I'm happy to see people's posts here about Chinese- I've studied it for over four years, two of which have been spent in China. I wonder though, will admissions boards find it impressive? Can it act as a sort of soft? Or is it pretty much just good for post graduation work, not pre-application filler?

TheJudge
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby TheJudge » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:14 am

MeanderingMatty wrote:I'm happy to see people's posts here about Chinese- I've studied it for over four years, two of which have been spent in China. I wonder though, will admissions boards find it impressive? Can it act as a sort of soft? Or is it pretty much just good for post graduation work, not pre-application filler?



Well I don't know if adcomms find it impressive, but if they don't, screw them. As someone who has studied Chinese for 5-6 years now, I can say that becoming fluent and being able to read fluently as a foreigner should at least be en par with being an olympic athlete. As someone once pointed out learning Chinese is "a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, hands of springsteel, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah."

mr.undroppable
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby mr.undroppable » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:38 am

TheJudge wrote:As someone once pointed out learning Chinese is "a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, hands of springsteel, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah."


forget the fact that a billion people can speak the language perfectly...

It is hard to learn an asian language coming from an english background but the sword cuts both ways and I don`t see any chinese/japanese/or otherwise asian immigrants in the US making any excuses.

Learning a language just takes a ton of hours, either you are willing to put in the time or not so you need a fantastic reason to push through the monotony of spending thousands of hours on vocab, kanji, grammar, etc (which you did as a child too, you just forget doing it). Most Americans looking to practice in America, without any family members who are not native english speakers, will not have enough motivation to become truly fluent in a foreign language.

TheJudge
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby TheJudge » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:45 am

mr.undroppable wrote:
TheJudge wrote:As someone once pointed out learning Chinese is "a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, hands of springsteel, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah."


forget the fact that a billion people can speak the language perfectly...

It is hard to learn an asian language coming from an english background but the sword cuts both ways and I don`t see any chinese/japanese/or otherwise asian immigrants in the US making any excuses.

Learning a language just takes a ton of hours, either you are willing to put in the time or not so you need a fantastic reason to push through the monotony of spending thousands of hours on vocab, kanji, grammar, etc (which you did as a child too, you just forget doing it). Most Americans looking to practice in America, without any family members who are not native english speakers, will not have enough motivation to become truly fluent in a foreign language.


There is a HUGE difference between learning your native language as a baby and starting to learn a foreign language when you are an adult. You learn much more easily and quicker as a child and it becomes increasingly difficult to learn languages as an adult. Learning french or spanish or any other of the major western language is a walk in the park compared to learning Chinese.

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Dick Whitman
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby Dick Whitman » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:52 am

If you already speak Spanish fluently, consider learning Portuguese. It should be by far the easiest language for you to learn and it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, including in one of the BRICs -- Brazil.

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pany1985
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby pany1985 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:54 am

I studied spanish for years in high school and college and never really learned much of anything... so while I think it'd be useful to learn a language, I've pretty well decided that I'm just not ever gonna do it

texaslawyer
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby texaslawyer » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:59 am

Spanish in my part of the country (Florida) whic is not a difficult language to learn. I speak it fairly well.

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SoxyPirate
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby SoxyPirate » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:00 am

ddp wrote:Anyone have any thoughts on the most useful foreign language for lawyers? Other than Spanish (I'm already fluent) would it be wiser to learn Chinese, Arabic, French, or Russian?


You already speak (allegedly) the most useful foreign language for lawyers. Learn Portuguese, vacation in Rio, thank me later.

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como
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby como » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:17 am

SoxyPirate wrote:
ddp wrote:Anyone have any thoughts on the most useful foreign language for lawyers? Other than Spanish (I'm already fluent) would it be wiser to learn Chinese, Arabic, French, or Russian?


You already speak (allegedly) the most useful foreign language for lawyers. Learn Portuguese, vacation in Rio, thank me later.


Plus a trillion.

de5igual
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby de5igual » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:21 am

TheJudge wrote:
mr.undroppable wrote:
TheJudge wrote:As someone once pointed out learning Chinese is "a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, hands of springsteel, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah."


forget the fact that a billion people can speak the language perfectly...

It is hard to learn an asian language coming from an english background but the sword cuts both ways and I don`t see any chinese/japanese/or otherwise asian immigrants in the US making any excuses.

Learning a language just takes a ton of hours, either you are willing to put in the time or not so you need a fantastic reason to push through the monotony of spending thousands of hours on vocab, kanji, grammar, etc (which you did as a child too, you just forget doing it). Most Americans looking to practice in America, without any family members who are not native english speakers, will not have enough motivation to become truly fluent in a foreign language.


There is a HUGE difference between learning your native language as a baby and starting to learn a foreign language when you are an adult. You learn much more easily and quicker as a child and it becomes increasingly difficult to learn languages as an adult. Learning french or spanish or any other of the major western language is a walk in the park compared to learning Chinese.


I think señor undroppable was referring to the millions of asian immigrants in the US who´ve managed to learn english. Their learning english *should* be no less difficult than a native english speaker learning chinese/japanese/korean/etc

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frank_the_tank
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby frank_the_tank » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:25 am

f0bolous wrote:
TheJudge wrote:
mr.undroppable wrote:
TheJudge wrote:As someone once pointed out learning Chinese is "a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, hands of springsteel, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah."


forget the fact that a billion people can speak the language perfectly...

It is hard to learn an asian language coming from an english background but the sword cuts both ways and I don`t see any chinese/japanese/or otherwise asian immigrants in the US making any excuses.

Learning a language just takes a ton of hours, either you are willing to put in the time or not so you need a fantastic reason to push through the monotony of spending thousands of hours on vocab, kanji, grammar, etc (which you did as a child too, you just forget doing it). Most Americans looking to practice in America, without any family members who are not native english speakers, will not have enough motivation to become truly fluent in a foreign language.


There is a HUGE difference between learning your native language as a baby and starting to learn a foreign language when you are an adult. You learn much more easily and quicker as a child and it becomes increasingly difficult to learn languages as an adult. Learning french or spanish or any other of the major western language is a walk in the park compared to learning Chinese.


I think señor undroppable was referring to the millions of asian immigrants in the US who´ve managed to learn english. Their learning english *should* be no less difficult than a native english speaker learning chinese/japanese/korean/etc


Yeah, because a Chinese immigrant in the US doesn't have any more opportunity to use English than we do Chinese..........

de5igual
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby de5igual » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:28 am

frank_the_tank wrote:Yeah, because a Chinese immigrant in the US doesn't have any more opportunity to use English than we do Chinese..........


that's why i emphasized should.

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LawandOrder
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby LawandOrder » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:29 am

frank_the_tank wrote:
f0bolous wrote:
TheJudge wrote:
mr.undroppable wrote:
forget the fact that a billion people can speak the language perfectly...

It is hard to learn an asian language coming from an english background but the sword cuts both ways and I don`t see any chinese/japanese/or otherwise asian immigrants in the US making any excuses.

Learning a language just takes a ton of hours, either you are willing to put in the time or not so you need a fantastic reason to push through the monotony of spending thousands of hours on vocab, kanji, grammar, etc (which you did as a child too, you just forget doing it). Most Americans looking to practice in America, without any family members who are not native english speakers, will not have enough motivation to become truly fluent in a foreign language.


There is a HUGE difference between learning your native language as a baby and starting to learn a foreign language when you are an adult. You learn much more easily and quicker as a child and it becomes increasingly difficult to learn languages as an adult. Learning french or spanish or any other of the major western language is a walk in the park compared to learning Chinese.


I think señor undroppable was referring to the millions of asian immigrants in the US who´ve managed to learn english. Their learning english *should* be no less difficult than a native english speaker learning chinese/japanese/korean/etc


Yeah, because a Chinese immigrant in the US doesn't have any more opportunity to use English than we do Chinese..........


I think the more comparable situation would be a U.S. citizen going to China and then immersing themselves and trying to learn the language that way.

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dapoetic1
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby dapoetic1 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:31 am

I'm fluent in American Sign Language.
I find it extremely useful and it's pretty easy to pick up

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:36 am

Um, shouldn't Latin be the most useful? All the strange words are Latin words.

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sapereaude2012
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby sapereaude2012 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:37 am

Dick Whitman wrote:If you already speak Spanish fluently, consider learning Portuguese. It should be by far the easiest language for you to learn and it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, including in one of the BRICs -- Brazil.


This would seem to be the best bet. I am proficient in Spanish and took an accelerated Portuguese course last year and was really pleased with how easy it was to pick up Portuguese. Brazil is a regional hegemon, definitely something to think about...

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Ipsa Dixit
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby Ipsa Dixit » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:38 am

Rsrcht wrote:The most useful language is the one you know you will need depending upon the practice and the market.


TITCR

I want to do public interest work locally. There are large Spanish and Russian speaking communities where I live. I speak neither of these languages, but both would be extremely useful to learn in order to serve these communities.

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robcataus
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Re: Most useful foreign language for lawyers

Postby robcataus » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:42 am

TheJudge wrote:
MeanderingMatty wrote:I'm happy to see people's posts here about Chinese- I've studied it for over four years, two of which have been spent in China. I wonder though, will admissions boards find it impressive? Can it act as a sort of soft? Or is it pretty much just good for post graduation work, not pre-application filler?



Well I don't know if adcomms find it impressive, but if they don't, screw them. As someone who has studied Chinese for 5-6 years now, I can say that becoming fluent and being able to read fluently as a foreigner should at least be en par with being an olympic athlete. As someone once pointed out learning Chinese is "a work for men with bodies of brass, lungs of steel, heads of oak, hands of springsteel, hearts of apostles, memories of angels, and lives of Methuselah."


I'm on my 9th year of Chinese, and have worked and lived there during 2 of those. My Chinese isn't fluent by the strict definition of fluency, but I don't have trouble conveying ideas and emotions. Having said that, I've heard way too many foreigners while working abroad claim that their Chinese is fluent (not knowing that I speak it), only to embarrass themselves with tones while trying to say the simplest things to local merchants. On this note, the problem is AdComms know how easy it is to lie/exaggerate about language competency, so they pretty much have to take our resume with a grain of salt.

Secondly, some schools have a bigger China connection than others, so I imagine they would be more impressed by those with a Chinese background. UMich, Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown are a few of these.

As for your final statement, Chinese is hard, and I don't mean for this to come off offensively, but I do have a distaste for Chinese-learning Americans who come off as a little big headed for learning Chinese. It's a challenge, but it reflects poorly on all of us when many seem to expect a trophy or something for learning it.




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