Which language is more useful in the legal profession, French or Spanish? Watch

Turkleton
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Hi,

I will be starting my Law degree in October, and my university has offered for all students to take up a language at the same time.

- I studied Spanish up until A/S Level so I have a fairly decent grasp of it
- However, I studied French for GCSE and therefore I am at a much lower level of understanding in this language

My question is which language would be more useful for me in the future?

I hope to be a commerical solicitor and then eventually go into politics

I feel that french would be useful as it is the language spoken in the EU as well as the fact it is a more classical language and so law firms might be more attracted to it.

Any advice on the subject would be hugely useful

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awais590
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What university are you studying at?

+ French imo.
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Schott
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Big law firms are usually quite flush with cash. Therefore they are unlikely to half-arse things. So if they need to communicate with clients, or need legal documents done in another language, they will usually get either a translator or foreign lawyer to do it. They don't need to rely on the language skills of their own solicitors.

However, a good working knowledge of another language can be useful for speaking informally with clients, which is useful for building client relationships and essentially for getting work to come to you through client retention.

As for which is most useful, I think it's impossible to say. No one knows what direction you will go in, which firm you will train at, or which department you will qualify into - all of which have a bearing on the answer. So do the one you enjoy most and feel best at, which by the sounds of it is Spanish.
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Turkleton
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(Original post by awais590)
What university are you studying at?

+ French imo.
University of York
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eve_22
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A partner at a MC law firm once told me that Spanish will be one of the most crucial business languages in the years to come.

P.S. Nonetheless, I still prefer French
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rockrunride
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French will be more 'useful' in this respect but it's terribly unwise to learn a language you aren't interested in.
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Ari Ben Canaan
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Spanish is similar to Portuguese. Spanish is also spoken in more countries today than French.

IMO you should do Spanish.
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Nick Longjohnson
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Spanish.

Because drug lords.
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Chav Princess
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French.

Most international courts use French and English.
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treacletart01
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all documents in the EU are in French
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Lewis :D
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French, definitely. Language of the EU, UN and many other institutions.
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jacketpotato
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In general French. Many English firms have a fairly large Paris office. French is also useful for EU and Competition law as French (along with English and German) is one of the three working languages of EU institutions (particularly as French is spoken in Brussells). French is also a useful (but not necessary) language if you want to get involved with international arbitration.

There may be some circumstances in which Spanish is more useful, e.g. where firms are opening new offices in South America. I believe many more firms will open in SA over the next few decades and speaking Spanish would probably be a massive advantage if you wanted to work in or get seconded to the region. Conversely French would be very useful if you are interested in work relating to Africa.

EDIT: I mentioned that French is useful for international arbitration. I've just seen a job advert for an arbitration lawyer specifying Spanish as a plus point but not mentioning French. It really depends.

In general, city firms have plenty French and Spanish speakers, in many cases they will also have Madrid/Paris offices staffed by local lawyers. Languages are a nice thing to have but not a deal-breaker.
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eve_22
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I personally hope to learn both in the future and I prefer French over Spanish, in so far as my personal interests are concerned.

However, I heard that it is better to learn Spanish first (that is, if you do not already speak another Romance language) and then progress onto learning French. Spanish is, apparently, the easier language to master in a reasonable period of time, whereas French takes a lot longer. So, on that basis, learn both but not at once, I reckon.
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Crazy Jamie
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Do the one that you have more of an interest in. As has already been said, to make practical use of a second language in a professional environment you will need to be extremely competent in it. Becoming fluent in a language takes so much more than simply studying hard; you have to be prepared to immerse yourself in the language. You are far more likely to do that if you have a genuine interest in it, so pick the one that you like the best.
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