Legal professionals have several options when it comes to the most useful language for paralegals to learn. The best choice ultimately varies based on location, law firm and personal preference. The following guide is intended to help aspiring paralegals who wish to study another language choose one.
Spanish Is A Good Bet
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Spanish continues to be the second most common language spoken in America. For this reason, Spanish is often considered the most useful language for paralegals to learn besides English, both in a professional as well as personal and practical capacity. Some law firms will even state that they are looking to hire an English-Spanish bilingual paralegal, or at least that Spanish ability is a plus. Certain areas, such as in California and Texas, are even majority Spanish-speaking, so paralegals wishing to work in those areas are likely to be required to learn Spanish for practical reasons. Spanish is useful for pro bono work as well.
Chinese And French Are Also Big
There are significant segments of the United States population that speak Chinese, including both Mandarin and Cantonese, as their first language. This is in addition to a large number of Chinese speakers worldwide. This can make Chinese an excellent second language for a paralegal to learn, especially if they want to go into business law or any type of international law. French is another language that is commonly spoken among Americans, including French Creole, which is a hybrid of French and African languages commonly spoken in areas of the Deep South, especially New Orleans and Louisiana. French is commonly taught in high schools and presents itself as an attractive alternative for students who would rather study a language other than Spanish.
It Partially Depends On Location
The most useful language for paralegals to learn will greatly depend on where the paralegal will be working. The third most common language in every state varies widely, as illustrated by Business Insider. For example, in Arizona and New Mexico, Navajo is the third most common language after English and Spanish. Firms that frequently represent Native clients need paralegals who can speak Native languages such as Navajo or Dakota. Firms in Wisconsin and Minnesota, states that have taken in many refugees, may have need of paralegals who can speak Somali or Hmong. Arabic is commonly spoken in communities in states such as Michigan. Paralegals who know these languages will be in high demand in specialized firms that handle a lot of clients who speak a language other than English.
Knowing Any Second Language Has Benefits
It is important to remember that knowing a second language of any kind has benefits for job seekers. Learning a second language gives people a stronger grip on communicating in their native language, which is a necessary skill for paralegals, whether written or spoken. Listing the ability to speak a second language on a resume demonstrates some desirable traits about a job seeker – that they are determined, interested in other cultures, open to new experiences, have a strong command of language and more. In general, this gives job applicants an advantage over their competition.
Aspiring paralegals should make the effort to learn another language for career and social benefits. Although Spanish is probably overall the most useful language for paralegals to learn, there are other options as well.