I have been made aware of a fascinating report, Linguistic Diversity in FTSE 250 legal teams, made available free of charge by Obelisk, a legal support services company based in London. It was sent to me by Nadya Kirichenko, Linguistic Division Director. Over to you Nadya, for an executive summary!
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Research by Obelisk identified 65 different languages spoken across the in-house legal departments of FTSE 250 companies in the UK. French tops the list for the highest number of speakers at 58% of those researched but, once one moves beyond Western Europe, the percentage of lawyers who speak languages from growing emerging regions is woefully low. Mandarin speakers, for example, make up only 1.3% of all foreign language speakers.
The report discusses the impact of this on companies as they move into emerging markets for strategic reasons and where English (the current language of legal documents in the UK) is spoken less.
Facts on the Use of Languages by In-house Legal teams
42.3% of all in-house foreign language linguists speak more than one language, which is representative of 10% of all in-house lawyers across the FTSE 250 who have multiple language skills.
The results indicate a deficiency across the FTSE 250 of Asian languages; only 12 people list Cantonese, 9 people list Mandarin and 10 people list Japanese.
Barclays, Lloyds TSB, RBS and HSBC top the list for the most languages spoken of in-house legal teams, however, the position in the list does not correlate directly to geographic spread around the world.
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To download the report, click here.