Law School Discussion

Law Students => Incoming 1Ls => Topic started by: sheltron5000 on July 15, 2008, 07:10:53 PM

Title: Foreign Languages
Post by: sheltron5000 on July 15, 2008, 07:10:53 PM
So here's my story, I've been teaching English in South Korea. I am coming back this fall to apply to law school. After I get all my apps in, I think I'd like to go abroad again, to study another language. I am already reasonably fluent in German.

Are there any other languages you guys think would be useful for a lawyer?

Thanks in advance!
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: PaleForce on July 15, 2008, 07:40:58 PM
I'd have to go with Spanish, considering the Hispanic population in the U.S. 
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: iscoredawaitlist on July 15, 2008, 10:56:27 PM
Well, if you're in Southern California (or I suspect any southwest state) Spanish is really a great idea. This is especially true for public interest where many of your clients will only speak Spanish. I know for our public interest clinics many if not most say "Spanish speakers preferred."
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: Majmun on July 16, 2008, 06:09:21 AM
It depends entirely on your desired practice.  I'm in IP and my firm is really trying to build our Mandarin-speaking contingent. Our Korean practice is also growing.  My own knowledge of German and French has gotten me plum assignments on projects for European clients.

Mandarin is definitely useful, Serbo-Croatian on the other hand...not so much.
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: sheltron5000 on July 16, 2008, 02:18:37 PM
Thanks for the advice everybody.

So if I have this right: Spanish for PI and Mandarin for IP?

How useful is French?
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: PaleForce on July 16, 2008, 03:13:19 PM
Thanks for the advice everybody.

So if I have this right: Spanish for PI and Mandarin for IP?

How useful is French?

I think you're in a good situation regardless, go for the one that interests you the most.  I'm quite envious of your language creds!
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: no634 on July 16, 2008, 07:17:36 PM
Jawohl!
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: UnoriginalAndrew on July 16, 2008, 08:23:43 PM
I'd like to increase my knowledge of/get back what I lost in German.  I lived in Deutschland for five years when I was a young child and picked up a good bit, then studied in high school and college...but, sadly I've lost a bit in recent years.

How can I bring my German up to snuff during law school?  Any ideas?
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: sheltron5000 on July 16, 2008, 08:45:59 PM
I've found that listening (and talking) to language tapes is a good way to bring back language that I've forgotten. I highly recommend the Michel Thomas German language tapes, but you should always listen to a sample of language tapes first to see if they suit you. But it is a great way to use your time in the car.
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: PaleForce on July 16, 2008, 08:50:42 PM
Sheltron, how did you become fluent in all these languages?  Did you study in UG?  Is English your first language?
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: sheltron5000 on July 16, 2008, 09:01:04 PM
English is my first language, but I don't want to give the wrong impression: I'm only fluent in German. I've managed to retain survival Mandarin (which I studied in college) and Korean (because I live here). I have studied other languages briefly but only to a survival level and then forgotten them. I was a linguistics major which helps a little, but mostly I just have an interest in language.
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: baileypicks24 on July 16, 2008, 09:04:20 PM
It depends entirely on your desired practice.  I'm in IP and my firm is really trying to build our Mandarin-speaking contingent. Our Korean practice is also growing.  My own knowledge of German and French has gotten me plum assignments on projects for European clients.

Yes, this is the best advice.

If you want to work international law in business, I'd say French, Mandarin, and Arabic are the hot languages. There are tons of companies trying to do business in places especially these places like China and the Middle East, so that would be a great place to specialize. Spanish probably wouldn't be as helpful, unless you're interesting in international business in Spanish-speaking countries, although if you're interested in doing family law in SoCal, then Spanish would also be the language to learn. Again, it all depends on where you want to go in life.
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: PaleForce on July 16, 2008, 09:07:27 PM
English is my first language, but I don't want to give the wrong impression: I'm only fluent in German. I've managed to retain survival Mandarin (which I studied in college) and Korean (because I live here). I have studied other languages briefly but only to a survival level and then forgotten them. I was a linguistics major which helps a little, but mostly I just have an interest in language.

Well, you're still officially my language hero!
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: UMKb on July 17, 2008, 08:17:03 AM
Has anyone tried the Rosetta Stone program? One of my local libraries offers it for free online, so I'm trying to find out if it would be useful.

I was unfortuantely someone who chose to do ASL for my UG language requirement and have forgotten everything. I'd really like to get back my Spanish skills from high school or try Arabic. My stepdad is from Egypt and could maybe help, though I've heard people say Egyptian Arabic is a little different...kind of like Spanish in Spain versus S. American countries.
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: sheltron5000 on July 17, 2008, 02:53:52 PM
Actually, Egyptian Arabic is probably the best to study. There is no "standard Arabic" so every country had their own dialect. Egypt has the advantage of being the pop movie/music center of the Arabic world. They use a Cairo dialect on Al Jazeera and the other international channels. If you want to impress Arabs more than speak with them study classical Arabic (aka Koranic Arabic), since that is what Arabic speakers think of as Standard Arabic; unfortunately no one can SPEAK Classical Arabic...

As for the Rosetta Stone software, I've never used it, but if your library offers it for free, it is certainly worth a try. It does seem to sell well so some people must like it. The key really is to realize that everyone likes different things in a language program so RS might be a good program, just not for you ;)
Title: Re: Foreign Languages
Post by: CoupDeGlace on July 19, 2008, 07:06:59 PM
Actually, Egyptian Arabic is probably the best to study. There is no "standard Arabic" so every country had their own dialect. Egypt has the advantage of being the pop movie/music center of the Arabic world. They use a Cairo dialect on Al Jazeera and the other international channels. If you want to impress Arabs more than speak with them study classical Arabic (aka Koranic Arabic), since that is what Arabic speakers think of as Standard Arabic; unfortunately no one can SPEAK Classical Arabic...

As for the Rosetta Stone software, I've never used it, but if your library offers it for free, it is certainly worth a try. It does seem to sell well so some people must like it. The key really is to realize that everyone likes different things in a language program so RS might be a good program, just not for you ;)

I would assume that in a professional setting, MSA would be fine, plus whatever variant needed for wherever it is you intend to practice. Egyptian Arabic is considered one of the more widespread variants of Arabic because of the popularity of Egyptian media.

The diglossic nature of Arabic kind of makes it necessary to view it as learning two or more languages. That's kind of what put me off learning it, it just was too much effort for me right now.

To answer the question as to what languages are the most important, it all depends on where you intend to practice, what kind of law you want to practice... simply put, whatever the language(s) your future clients will speak will be important. I definitely don't think it would hurt to know Spanish in the US, but there's also so many bilingual native Spanish speakers that it's not going to really make you stand out.

If you're looking to practice or maintain a language during law school, simple ways are to take advantage of online media... Like for German, Deutsche Welle has a lot of online resources for foreign students of German; there's printed media, news podcasts... sometimes you might try to find what music is popular in the country/countries where the language is spoken and download those... I usually check out the Top 100 downloads on iTunes Germany/Italy/etc. These are all easy ways to improve and not really feel like you're "studying."

And if you have the time, or by some luck you have any native speakers in your school's LLM program, you might take advantage of that. A lot of universities also have language partner programs, where they can match you to an exchange student there studying English that speaks whatever your target language is. It might be a nice way to make friends from outside the law circle... Just some ideas.