Speaking Their Language: Firms Hire Mandarin Speakers

Speaking Their Language: Firms Hire Mandarin Speakers

More than a decade ago, U.S. law firms were placing their Mandarin-speaking attorneys in offices in China. Now, as China’s investment in this country has ballooned into the billions, firms are keeping more of these attorneys stateside. This according to Feng Xue, a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman, courtesy of a recent Crain’s Chicago Business article.

Chicago has seen a boom in business from China thanks to Lenovo’s $2.91 billion-dollar purchase of Motorola. As a result, Chicago firms, including Katten, have increased the number of Mandarin-speaking attorneys on staff. In particular, Katten has hired four attorneys who speak Mandarin and selected a longtime partner in corporate finance who can speak the language.

According to Michael Morkin, a former managing partner at Baker & McKenzie in Chicago, while the legal job market has been rather conservative, it’s not the case for firms in China, where they are “gearing up.” This includes Baker, which has added seven Chinese-speaking attorneys to its Chicago office, for a total of 12. Additionally, it has rotated four attorneys from its offices in China for work in U.S.

Over at Sidley Austin, Chicago’s second-largest firm has hired 10 attorneys who speak either Mandarin or Cantonese, 130 total for the firm. Midsize firms are also expressing a need for such expertise.

How about your firm? Do you have attorneys who speak an Asian language? In LLM, Inc.’s latest white paper, “On the Same Page: TAR for Asian languages,” we discuss how a great part of TAR’s successful application to foreign-language documents is due to having native-language expertise on hand during review. As China and other countries continue to cross business paths with the U.S., this need will continue to grow.

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