As law firms and corporate legal departments focus on serving the needs of a multicultural and global marketplace, there is a rising demand for bilingual lawyers, a new survey by Robert Half Legal suggests. More than four in 10 (42 percent) lawyers interviewed said they are seeing an increase in the need for attorneys with foreign language skills.
Spanish was identified by 88 percent of attorneys as the language in greatest demand and Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese) ranked second with 9 percent of the survey response. In Southern California, there is an especially high demand for legal professionals who are proficient in Japanese and Korean.
In the survey, lawyers were asked, “Are you seeing an increase or decrease in the need for attorneys with second language skills?” Their responses:
Significant increase – 10%
Slight increase – 32%
No change – 56%
Slight decrease – 1%
Significant decrease – 0%
Don’t know/no answer – 1%
Total – 100%
Some of the practice areas and legal matters where attorneys with foreign language skills are most needed include anti-trust, business litigation and intellectual property law. Full-time and project attorneys who possess foreign language skills are needed to handle an increase in international litigation, patent filings, patent prosecution and foreign language document review including translation.