In an ever-expanding global economy, multilingual lawyers are better suited to take on a wider variety of clients. These opportunities often translate into bigger career successes.
Continued training makes good lawyers great. With an abundance of available programs, courses, seminars and workshops, it might be hard to distinguish what will actually make you a better practitioner and help you embark on new professional inquiries. But there’s something that will work for sure: Learning foreign languages. In this article, we’ll explore why becoming at least bilingual could be the key to better opportunities and a better salary, by explaining four reasons why multilingual lawyers do better.
They Develop More Lucrative Practices
As Lawyer Ty Doyle explained, being multilingual can greatly benefit your bottom line, whether by making you a viable option for Limited English Proficiency clients or by helping you advise companies in this increasingly globalized economy:
“…for corporate lawyers like me, business is increasingly international, so having foreign language skills, while not strictly required, is definitely a plus, and can be a major advantage. I speak Spanish at a B level, and it’s still helped my practice from time to time. But at my first firm, for example, there was an American lawyer who spoke fluent Japanese, and due to that and hard work, was able to carve out a great practice advising Japanese companies on their litigation in the U.S. And for transactional attorneys, foreign languages are a clear plus; if you’re working with French companies and can speak French, that’s never going to be a bad thing.
So bottom line, foreign language skills don’t necessarily equal more money, but they certainly can help people develop lucrative practices.”
They’re Key to Aiding International Expansion
High-paying companies and industries (such as automotive and tech) are looking for bilingual lawyers to deal with international patenting and assist in negotiation processes with international partners.
This isn’t exclusive to businesses based in America. Location might only change the most sought-after languages. According to Robert Half Legal, if you’re in New York or Los Angeles, it won’t be hard for you to find searches for Spanish or Chinese-speaking lawyers. Meanwhile, in Canada, according to Robert Half Legal’s 2018 Salary Report:
“Employment prospects are strong for legal support professionals who: Possess four to seven-plus years of experience, are tech-savvy and/or proficient with the latest legal software, specialize in litigation or corporate law, [and] are bilingual in English and French.”
They’re Key to Helping Spanish-speaking Clients
Spanish-speaking lawyers are doing more than aiding a company’s Latin American expansion. This should come as no surprise: The United States’ Hispanic population is composed of approximately 58 million people, and it’s growing. Law firms and non-profits are looking for Spanish-speaking lawyers to defend the rights of Hispanic individuals or groups, or to assist throughout the immigration process.
They Have a Wider Clientele
Even if you’re an independent, freelance lawyer who doesn’t aim for a corporate role, or are just beginning your career, learning a second language will greatly benefit you, opening you to new niches (immigration, for instance) and better-paying projects (such as foreign language document review).
When providing legal services to a Limited English Proficiency client, communicating with them in their language is key. This is very clearly explained in a Day Translations article:
“It is important for clients who do not speak English to have a legal practitioner who speaks their language. They are more comfortable talking with someone who is fluent in their language. If they are asked to fill out forms, for example, they can use their mother tongue, because they know their attorney could translate what they say.”
What about you? Are you learning a second language? Do you speak a second language? How has your second language impacted your career? Let us know in the comments below!