Does language fluency help?

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TaipeiMort
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Re: Does language fluency help?

Postby TaipeiMort » Fri May 06, 2011 9:54 am

ArmyVet07 wrote:
TaipeiMort wrote:
SOCRATiC wrote:I know 4,000+ Chinese characters - I passed the Rank 2 Chinese character exam administered in South Korea. But I won't be trying to capitalize on his when I really don't see it being used for practical purposes. If you're coming straight out of undergrad, I think passing CFA I & II looks better on your resume, rather than trying to claim that you're proficient with Chinese because you know some characters. When it comes to languages, I think it's always best to avoid overstating qualifications.


Exactly. Also, reading proficiency is great and all. However, I think that most important is oral proficiency. Especially law-related oral proficiency. I think a test like the OPI might be better than the HSK for law jobs. There are a lot of Koreans and Japanese that have reading comp, but can't speak.


I agree that oral proficiency may be more important. However, proficiency tests with an oral component are less common and less widely-known. I would guess this is because they require standardized training of the examiners and are very labor-intensive. For example, military linguists only have an OPI when they graduate from the Defense Language Institute. Annual tests only involve reading and listening comprehension.

Reading, listening, (and writing) skills can be important, too. It's an advantage if you can read Chinese-language documents rather than having to rely on translations.

On the subject of reading/writing skills, I often wonder what someone means by saying they know x number of characters. Does this only refer to reading comprehension or also the ability to write the characters (by hand)? I am curious because of a phenomenon the Chinese call 提笔忘字 ("pick up the pen and forget the word") which is likely caused by an overreliance on writing with computers/mobile phones/smart phones (these generally use pinyin input). I am guilty of this as well and feel very awkward whenever I need to write something by hand.


I used to be able to write by hand. However, I can't really anymore. With cell phones and computers, it is so much easier to just type. I can't really think of any instance where I would need to handwrite something.

bdubs
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Re: Does language fluency help?

Postby bdubs » Fri May 06, 2011 10:15 am

Anecdotally, I can say that knowing a foreign language fluently can help with work in the US as well. I am currently working on a litigation matter that involves a number of foreign defendants whose document productions are probably 80% foreign language. I think that a person who had a detailed knowledge of the written language could have substantial advantage, however it could just as easily turn you into a document review slave.

I know of one person who got a job in biglaw almost entirely based on their foreign language ability (it was a less common language for attorneys to know).

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Kimchi_smile
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Re: Does language fluency help?

Postby Kimchi_smile » Fri May 06, 2011 11:31 am

I see. That's nice to know that reading knowledge of a language can help with the actual day-to-day job of being an attorney.

By the way, do you think that the speaking part of languages can help with networking? But, do lawyers need to "network" in the sense that MBA students and buy-side business people do? I heard a lot about managing partners' "rain-making" ability, but I'm not sure whether that's exclusively for English. How about clients from abroad? I'd like to hear your opinions.

bdubs
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Re: Does language fluency help?

Postby bdubs » Fri May 06, 2011 11:39 am

Kimchi_smile wrote:I see. That's nice to know that reading knowledge of a language can help with the actual day-to-day job of being an attorney.

By the way, do you think that the speaking part of languages can help with networking? But, do lawyers need to "network" in the sense that MBA students and buy-side business people do? I heard a lot about managing partners' "rain-making" ability, but I'm not sure whether that's exclusively for English. How about clients from abroad? I'd like to hear your opinions.


Large clients from abroad generally have established US counsel, both in house and outside. I don't think that making inroads with the VPs or CEO of a foreign firm is likely to matter a whole lot. Executives tend to delegate legal matters, especially when it is a foreign firm that is unaccustomed to the US legal system.




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