The Benefits of Foreign Languages for Aspiring Lawyers

If you want to find work in the increasingly competitive and lucrative legal profession, the knowledge of foreign languages could boost your prospects and help to set you apart.

The British are famed for their lack of language skills, with 39 percent of young native English speakers put off learning a language because ‘most people speak English’, and 14 percent suggesting ‘most other languages are not useful’.

However, this reluctance of the majority to learn a foreign language is working in the favour of those who do, particularly in highly competitive fields like law. The legal profession is becoming increasingly global in its outlook, and those with the ability to speak a foreign language are increasingly in-demand. This could be just what aspiring lawyers need to kick start their legal careers.

The role of languages in the legal profession

The globalisation of the legal industry means that many firms practising law internationally will not consider hiring lawyers without language skills. The trouble for aspiring lawyers from the UK is that while many British students are reluctant to learn a second language, their counterparts in the EU often have a second and even a third language, one of which is English. This puts graduate lawyers who speak just English at a distinct disadvantage when competing for graduate jobs at international law firms.

Dr Martina Künnecke, a lecturer in comparative public law and EU law at the University of Hull, said: “Students need a global mindset, and language skills are a part of that. It’s absolutely crucial considering the competition in the jobs market today.”

Recent research reveals that while there is a high proportion of European languages spoken as second languages by lawyers, such as French, German and Spanish, there is a shortfall of those speaking the languages of emerging economies. Given the shift in economic power to markets like China, Asia and the Middle East, there is currently a high demand for legal professionals who can speak these languages.

The benefits of speaking a foreign language

Aside from the obvious benefit that legal professionals with an additional language are able to communicate more widely, having this important sub-discipline also shows a candidate’s willingness to work hard to boost their employability. The ability to deploy their language skills also means they can work on a greater range of projects, which can lead to a higher salary.

As well as increasing employment prospects, speaking a second language also opens up more opportunities for candidates to work and live abroad. This is an excellent way for young lawyers to cut their teeth and gain valuable experience in the legal profession.

So, if you’re an aspiring lawyer seeking work in an increasingly globalised world, it might be time to dust off those old cassette tapes (we’re showing our age now), dig out those textbooks and start refreshing those language skills you learnt at school.

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We can help. At Linguistica Recruitment, we work some of the UK’s leading employers to place bilingual workers in rewarding and well-paid jobs across the South Coast of England. Take a look at our current vacancies or send us your CV today.