Being able to speak a second language as a barrister or solicitor just makes sense if you’re based out of London.
More than 250 languages are spoken in the city, so you likely help clients who don’t speak English on a daily basis. There’s an even greater chance you handle foreign language documents and evidence.
Unfortunately for many UK practices, few lawyers can boast of speaking a second language. With most lawyers speaking only one language, UK translation services provide invaluable support to law firms. In a multicultural city like London, legal translation services play an essential role in a practice’s success.
A 2017 Study Shows Most Lawyers Are Monolingual
Management consulting firm Edward Drummond & Co surveyed more than 2,500 partners from the UK’s biggest law firms. Their research shows just 15 percent of those surveyed speak a foreign language, with most speaking French, German, and Spanish.
The study pulls back the curtain on foreign language proficiency in legal industries. Most lawyers in the UK only speak one language, and those that do speak second languages usually skew heavily towards Western European languages.
French, German, and Spanish belong to the same Indo-European family of languages based on the Latin alphabet. Along with Italian, these Western European languages are some of the most popular target languages translated by UK translation services.
Non-Latin Languages Are Deeply Underrepresented
The study also shows Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Russian, and Arabic are some of the least known languages. They’re spoken by less than one percent of respondents.
Although all distinct languages, they have one thing in common: they don’t rely on the Latin alphabet. Mandarin and Cantonese rely on logographs, Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, and Arabic employs a right-to-left cursive script called abjad.
Another common thread weaving these languages together is use. They’re some of the most popular languages spoken besides English and Spanish. Chinese is the most-spoken first language in the world, while Russian is the second-most used language on the Internet today.
Below, here are some rough estimates on how many people are native speakers:
- Chinese:3 billion people
- Russian: 155 million people
- Arabic:466 million people
Despite these numbers, there’s a greater chance no one in your practice speaks these languages.
This linguistic blind spot can be a significant hurdle for your law firm without the help of a professional agency of legal translators.
An Esteemed Legal Translation Agency Can Help
An established legal translation agency has professional legal translators from all backgrounds, covering hundreds of languages. They can assign the ideal legal translator for any project — whether you need help with legal Arabic translation or a Spanish to English translation service.
A legal translator has studied the legal vocabulary of their chosen language, and some may even concentrate on specific regions and dialects. This specialisation ensures you get the most accurate translation of paperwork, evidence, and court documents.
Even if you have a polyglot partner, no one can be fluent in every language. It’s even harder to gain fluency in a foreign language’s legal system.
As a result, UK translation services will always provide critical support, no matter how many of your lawyers speak a second language. Whether you’re based in London, NYC, or some place on the other side of the world, these agencies can help law firms from around the world find the right talent for any project.