foreign language impact on law job prospects?

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)

Will learning Mandarin help with employment?

yes
19
58%
no
10
30%
a different language would be more beneficial
4
12%
 
Total votes: 33

curiousnole
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foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby curiousnole » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:12 am

I'm in the process of learning Mandarin and I was just wondering if this would have any effect on my job prospects in the future after law school? If so, in what areas of law? I'm not learning Mandarin for any reason having to do with law school, I'm just curious. Thanks

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kalvano
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby kalvano » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:07 am

Yes. China is a huge emerging market, from IP to everything, and people who can speak Mandarin are relatively rare.

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TaipeiMort
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby TaipeiMort » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:23 am

I can tell you that Mandarin speakers essentially work in three ways:

1) Non-Chinese/American Born Chinese relationship partners-- great at convincing American and Chinese businessmen that they are a Chinese-speaking lawyer, really good at managing client relationships, good at forwarding information on to the #2 and 3's, exist in biglaw US-side or fly a lot between Hong Kong and major market. Language proficiency needed: Good spoken, okay listening, written a plus, but a secretary can manage your mandarin emails.

2) Non-Chinese/American Born Chinese functional attorneys-- not relationship partners, instead are functionally skilled in Chinese law. Usually exist in Biglaw satellites or own their own firm, have $$$, are very, very talented. Language proficiency: Great written (4000+character recognition, can read the BBC in Chinese, advanced HSK), can also speak well.

3)Chinese natives-- the work horse of Chinese law. Make associate money, don't make partner unless their English is amazing or they are adept at managing other #3s.

If you want to learn Mandarin: Go be a missionary or English teach in China for a couple of years. You really want a spoken base before you try to assimilate characters, as the other way around is much, much hard and takes much, much more time.

curiousnole
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby curiousnole » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:08 am

hmmm thank you guys very much. I didn't realize it had the propensity for being so beneficial.

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thexfactor
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby thexfactor » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:20 am

It will take you a long time to learn mandarin. I don't want to dissuade you, but maybe your time is best spent on other things?

There are tons of US born "mandarin speaking" attorneys in most metro areas in the US already. IMO, there is only a very slight boost for individuals who can speak but can't read or write. Furthermore, most LLM programs are full of practicing Chinese lawyers from China.

The individuals who are rare are the people who are near-native (ie can reading, writing, speaking) in Chinese but are also native English speakers. I doubt you can get up to near native in the next couple years. I have a buddy who just got hired at a biglaw firm just inside the top 1/3 from a t25 school because of this rare combination.

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dingbat
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby dingbat » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:54 pm

thexfactor wrote:It will take you a long time to learn mandarin. I don't want to dissuade you, but maybe your time is best spent on other things?

There are tons of US born "mandarin speaking" attorneys in most metro areas in the US already. IMO, there is only a very slight boost for individuals who can speak but can't read or write. Furthermore, most LLM programs are full of practicing Chinese lawyers from China.

The individuals who are rare are the people who are near-native (ie can reading, writing, speaking) in Chinese but are also native English speakers. I doubt you can get up to near native in the next couple years. I have a buddy who just got hired at a biglaw firm just inside the top 1/3 from a t25 school because of this rare combination.

Althought, being in the top 1/3 at a T25 makes you a viable candidate for biglaw anyway, so that was just the icing on the cake.

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splitbrain
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby splitbrain » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:12 pm

¯\(°_o)/¯

Wo bu zhidao lol

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Gail
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby Gail » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:59 pm

I imagine Serbo-Croatian does me no good at OCI?

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TaipeiMort
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby TaipeiMort » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:05 am

Gail wrote:I imagine Serbo-Croatian does me no good at OCI?


Maybe at DLA Piper.

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TaipeiMort
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby TaipeiMort » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:12 am

thexfactor wrote:It will take you a long time to learn mandarin. I don't want to dissuade you, but maybe your time is best spent on other things?

There are tons of US born "mandarin speaking" attorneys in most metro areas in the US already. IMO, there is only a very slight boost for individuals who can speak but can't read or write. Furthermore, most LLM programs are full of practicing Chinese lawyers from China.

The individuals who are rare are the people who are near-native (ie can reading, writing, speaking) in Chinese but are also native English speakers. I doubt you can get up to near native in the next couple years. I have a buddy who just got hired at a biglaw firm just inside the top 1/3 from a t25 school because of this rare combination.


The problem is that language skills will not get you into top firms. What gets you into V100 and NLJ 250 firms is the school you attend, and then the rank at that school, and then the practical skills you have.

Language skills are helpful within law firms. These skills can help you carve out a niche which makes partner track easier.

Chinese skills are only hard to build because you have to be in China to build them up. Chinese fluency cannot be developed in the US. Rosetta stone wont do it for you. I do think that university classes and software will help you develop the building blocks. However, you need to hit the ground to actually be where you need to be.

LSATNightmares
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby LSATNightmares » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:32 am

It'd probably help a lot with immigration law in San Francisco or some such West Coast place with large Chinese communities.

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thexfactor
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby thexfactor » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:39 pm

dingbat wrote:
thexfactor wrote:It will take you a long time to learn mandarin. I don't want to dissuade you, but maybe your time is best spent on other things?

There are tons of US born "mandarin speaking" attorneys in most metro areas in the US already. IMO, there is only a very slight boost for individuals who can speak but can't read or write. Furthermore, most LLM programs are full of practicing Chinese lawyers from China.

The individuals who are rare are the people who are near-native (ie can reading, writing, speaking) in Chinese but are also native English speakers. I doubt you can get up to near native in the next couple years. I have a buddy who just got hired at a biglaw firm just inside the top 1/3 from a t25 school because of this rare combination.

Althought, being in the top 1/3 at a T25 makes you a viable candidate for biglaw anyway, so that was just the icing on the cake.


The school places roughly 15% of its class in nlj250 firms... Top 1/3 doesn't really cut it anymore at my t25.

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thexfactor
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby thexfactor » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:41 pm

TaipeiMort wrote:
thexfactor wrote:It will take you a long time to learn mandarin. I don't want to dissuade you, but maybe your time is best spent on other things?

There are tons of US born "mandarin speaking" attorneys in most metro areas in the US already. IMO, there is only a very slight boost for individuals who can speak but can't read or write. Furthermore, most LLM programs are full of practicing Chinese lawyers from China.

The individuals who are rare are the people who are near-native (ie can reading, writing, speaking) in Chinese but are also native English speakers. I doubt you can get up to near native in the next couple years. I have a buddy who just got hired at a biglaw firm just inside the top 1/3 from a t25 school because of this rare combination.


The problem is that language skills will not get you into top firms. What gets you into V100 and NLJ 250 firms is the school you attend, and then the rank at that school, and then the practical skills you have.

Language skills are helpful within law firms. These skills can help you carve out a niche which makes partner track easier.

Chinese skills are only hard to build because you have to be in China to build them up. Chinese fluency cannot be developed in the US. Rosetta stone wont do it for you. I do think that university classes and software will help you develop the building blocks. However, you need to hit the ground to actually be where you need to be.



Yes, agreed. This process might take a long time. It might take you 2-3 years to become decently literate in Chinese. 3 years time might be something that you don't have. Who knows, maybe you have like a 180 iq and can pick it up in 3 months.

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magicbunny
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby magicbunny » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:09 pm

I'm Mandarin/English bilingual (both are native/near native languages) but I cannot speak Chinese in a legal or any professional setting.

How about Italian and Greek? I can write pretty well in both languages but some Italian and Greek people would die every time I start speaking their languages :)

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TaipeiMort
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby TaipeiMort » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:00 pm

magicbunny wrote:I'm Mandarin/English bilingual (both are native/near native languages) but I cannot speak Chinese in a legal or any professional setting.

How about Italian and Greek? I can write pretty well in both languages but some Italian and Greek people would die every time I start speaking their languages :)


Just learn legal and business language and to read and write. You just need to be conversant in these areas. If you are an ABC you will need to do this because the assumption is probably that you can't do these things.

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magicbunny
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby magicbunny » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:12 am

TaipeiMort wrote:
magicbunny wrote:I'm Mandarin/English bilingual (both are native/near native languages) but I cannot speak Chinese in a legal or any professional setting.

How about Italian and Greek? I can write pretty well in both languages but some Italian and Greek people would die every time I start speaking their languages :)


Just learn legal and business language and to read and write. You just need to be conversant in these areas. If you are an ABC you will need to do this because the assumption is probably that you can't do these things.


I'm foreign born but have been in this country for way too long and never stepped on the Asian soil again since then, but I speak plenty of Chinese with my family members

Also I'm trying to practice in the Midwest so I guess Mandarin isn't as important here as in California. Thanks for the advice!

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TaipeiMort
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby TaipeiMort » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:58 am

magicbunny wrote:
TaipeiMort wrote:
magicbunny wrote:I'm Mandarin/English bilingual (both are native/near native languages) but I cannot speak Chinese in a legal or any professional setting.

How about Italian and Greek? I can write pretty well in both languages but some Italian and Greek people would die every time I start speaking their languages :)


Just learn legal and business language and to read and write. You just need to be conversant in these areas. If you are an ABC you will need to do this because the assumption is probably that you can't do these things.


I'm foreign born but have been in this country for way too long and never stepped on the Asian soil again since then, but I speak plenty of Chinese with my family members

Also I'm trying to practice in the Midwest so I guess Mandarin isn't as important here as in California. Thanks for the advice!


Maybe. A lot of the work is in California, NYC, and DC, but Chicago has decent Chinese opportunities.

imbored25
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby imbored25 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:44 am

Not in Alabama dude

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Br3v
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby Br3v » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:53 am

kalvano wrote:Yes. China is a huge emerging market, from IP to everything, and people who can speak Mandarin -who practice law in the United States- are relatively rare.


Sorry, it just bugged be considering how big the Chinese population is lol

LSATNightmares
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby LSATNightmares » Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:08 am

magicbunny wrote:I'm Mandarin/English bilingual (both are native/near native languages) but I cannot speak Chinese in a legal or any professional setting.

How about Italian and Greek? I can write pretty well in both languages but some Italian and Greek people would die every time I start speaking their languages :)


I also speak Greek. It has been useless language in my opinion unless you want to speak to Greek relatives or do work related to the Greek financial crisis. :-)

Real Madrid
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby Real Madrid » Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:16 am

I've wondered this as well, as I'm living in Spain now and am becoming near-fluent in Spanish (at least according to a recent fluency test that I took). I'm certainly not learning Spanish because of a potential impact on my legal career, but if it did help, it would be pretty awesome.

CanadianWolf
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:09 am

Spanish helps in criminal defense & prosecution (public defender & district attorney, including appeals divisions).

r6_philly
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Re: foreign language impact on law job prospects?

Postby r6_philly » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:41 pm

TaipeiMort wrote:Maybe. A lot of the work is in California, NYC, and DC, but Chicago has decent Chinese opportunities.


It's interesting, I had several callbacks but only one person asked me about my Mandarin skills. Do I have to express interest or do they just assume I will be able to contribute?




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