Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
dinkleberg

Does speaking other languages help you during recruitment?

Recommended Posts

Hello! 

I've been learning Chinese for fun and I've taken the HSK 5 exam. I was just wondering if knowing other languages other than English has been helpful at all during your job search- do employers care/value this skill? If so, what kind of practice preferred/desired candidates who knew other languages, like Chinese or French? 

Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

French might help for some positions given it is an official language. The others never hurt, it shows skill and dedication. 

There's always random emails looking for someone who speaks some language for a one off task, but that's not really a hiring criteria. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on your practice area and who your clients are. In my practice area (immigration law), Mandarin is quite useful. That's true both for smaller retail firms catering specifically to Mandarin speaking clientele and the larger corporate immigration firms that have affiliated themselves with the big accounting firms.

Another language that seems to be in demand is Russian

Edited by msk2012
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Second or third language ability is definitely a plus, but not to a large extent. Clients hire lawyers to perform legal work, not translation. Of course, if you can convince potential employers that you have the potential to be a rainmaker in that language-speaking market, that is a different story.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, SuperBig said:

Second or third language ability is definitely a plus, but not to a large extent. Clients hire lawyers to perform legal work, not translation. Of course, if you can convince potential employers that you have the potential to be a rainmaker in that language-speaking market, that is a different story.

I'd also be wary of certain students claim to fluency in certain languages, rising to the point of being able to sufficiently understand and translate client instructions (let alone documents) to meet a legal threshold.

Translators spend many many years in school focused on just translation to get to that level. This isn't "I speak it with my friends and my parents half the time, broken and filled in with tidbits of English".

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/7/2020 at 6:33 PM, dinkleberg said:

Hello! 

I've been learning Chinese for fun and I've taken the HSK 5 exam. I was just wondering if knowing other languages other than English has been helpful at all during your job search- do employers care/value this skill? If so, what kind of practice preferred/desired candidates who knew other languages, like Chinese or French? 

Thank you!

French of course is in its own category, being one of Canada's official languages.  Knowledge of French is huge if seeking employment with the federal government.  Also hugely important if you want to work in Quebec.  And even elsewhere, since French is an official language an Accused person does have the right to a trial in French, so I know any Crown office is required to have a French speaking lawyer or two on staff.

Beyond that, at a retail level being able to speak a language is a good selling feature.  People who have immigrated from China will appreciate it if someone can speak their language and are more likely to seek out Mandarin-speaking lawyers (though they may be more likely to seek out someone of Chinese heritage who speaks Mandarin, rather than a non-Chinese who speaks Mandarin as a second language).

In terms of biglaw corporate work, it's not as likely to be helpful.  The international language of business is English, so clients who hire you are going to speak in English - after all they're hiring you as a Canadian lawyer.  You're not going to be sent overseas to do legal work.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I brought in 10+ files to my firm as a 2L summer student because I am bi-lingual. The firm offered me an articling salary 20K more than the market price. Now I am half way through the article and already built a growing clientele (50+ clients). The firm recognized my contribution with a very generous offer for an associate position.

I agree if you can show your potential to be a rainmaker in a non-English language market, you will be more valuable to small to medium sized firms. Further, having the language skill itself is not enough, you have to show your ability and eagerness to utilize it as a marketing tool. You must actively approach the potential client base, rather than sit and wait for them to come to you.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just went through a stack of applications and I didn't put much weight on knowing other languages unless the applicant was fluent. As @pzabbythesecond mentioned, there's a big difference between having a conversation in a different language and providing legal services in it. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread makes me want to brush up on my French. I completed French immersion in high school, and I can understand it verbally or written, but I have difficulty speaking it. Any resources others would recommend other than just reading or listening to French material?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Astrowelkyn said:

This thread makes me want to brush up on my French. I completed French immersion in high school, and I can understand it verbally or written, but I have difficulty speaking it. Any resources others would recommend other than just reading or listening to French material?

Depending on where you are, there might be some conversational French groups who get together to practise french in an otherwise Anglo community. It can be hit or miss, but worth a try. It's cheaper than moving to France :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Astrowelkyn said:

This thread makes me want to brush up on my French. I completed French immersion in high school, and I can understand it verbally or written, but I have difficulty speaking it. Any resources others would recommend other than just reading or listening to French material?

find a tandem partner // meetup.com french conversations // alliance francaise // french speaking gf/bf 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/8/2020 at 9:33 AM, dinkleberg said:

Hello! 

I've been learning Chinese for fun and I've taken the HSK 5 exam. I was just wondering if knowing other languages other than English has been helpful at all during your job search- do employers care/value this skill? If so, what kind of practice preferred/desired candidates who knew other languages, like Chinese or French? 

Thank you!

When I was doing recruitment in Toronto, few firms expressed value in my Chinese, though some. But I have reason to believe that’s changed. And NY firms do value it.

That said, HSK5 isn’t super helpful. You need to be able to at least read complex commercial contracts and ideally hold calls/diligence reviews/negotiations in the language. Not impossible from a base of HSK5 but you’ve got some road ahead. PM me if you have further questions. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/9/2020 at 10:31 AM, pzabbythesecond said:

I'd also be wary of certain students claim to fluency in certain languages, rising to the point of being able to sufficiently understand and translate client instructions (let alone documents) to meet a legal threshold.

Translators spend many many years in school focused on just translation to get to that level. This isn't "I speak it with my friends and my parents half the time, broken and filled in with tidbits of English".

I work on a lot of deals where professional translators (foreign or Chinese based) have been employed by Chinese targets at some point in their past. Their translations of legal documents are largely unusable and I invariably use the underlying document. Even translations by first year lawyers are hard to work from. 

You really need to be both functionally bilingual and somewhat experienced in law to meaningfully work on or from a foreign language doc. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the phrasing of the title makes me picture some eager 2L in a curtained-off cubicle breaking into Russian or something mid OCI in the hopes of this impressing the people across the table

Edited by machine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

side note, but quite relevant here

i have the app called "memrise" to learn french, but i'm not sure if its actually good. 

rosetta stone is too expensive for me and i do not want to torrent it. 

any advice for where to learn french?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, ForensicAnthropology said:

side note, but quite relevant here

i have the app called "memrise" to learn french, but i'm not sure if its actually good. 

rosetta stone is too expensive for me and i do not want to torrent it. 

any advice for where to learn french?

 

You can always try Duolingo. Read La Presse+, le Monde or Radio Canada for news. Put on French subtitles and watch old episodes of shows you like. McGill cont Ed also offers an online non credit business writing class.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, artsydork said:

You can always try Duolingo. Read La Presse+, le Monde or Radio Canada for news. Put on French subtitles and watch old episodes of shows you like. McGill cont Ed also offers an online non credit business writing class.

As someone how will always identify as a Montrealer, I just don't understand how someone can learn French without it being taught by a pineapple. 

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, ForensicAnthropology said:

any advice for where to learn french?

 

While I'm sure apps can be a good start, but since this is on ls.ca there's a world of difference between being able to have a conversation in French and being able to conduct litigation in French.  As a unilingual anglophone if that is your goal it is almost certain to include both a lot of formal education and spending some time in Quebec or France.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...