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Bilingual Lawyers in Demand, But Jobs Are Temporary; Apple Hires Korean Speakers in Samsung Spat

Posted Jul 24, 2012 8:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Lawyers who speak a second language are a hot commodity, though the jobs they are snagging are usually temporary.

Apple’s law firms, for example, hired dozens of Korean speaking temporary lawyers in its patent litigation with Samsung Electronics over smartphone design, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Patent and automotive litigation are improving the employment picture for lawyers who speak Asian languages, the story says. Also popular are lawyers can help translate language for deals and documents in emerging economies such as Brazil and India. Eric Elting, director of legal business at TransPerfect Legal Solutions, told the newspaper his company is also getting more work due to corporate bribery investigations, especially “on the Russian side.”

Rather than making permanent hires, law firms look to temp agencies for their bilingual lawyers.

Elting said mass hires like those made by Apple often indicate a need to wade through a lot of documents in a short period of time. A separate story by the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) previews the case, set to go on trial Monday in California federal court in San Jose. In the first quarter of the year, Samsung outpaced Apple in smartphone shipments, the story notes.

“Whether Samsung got to the top legally or, as Apple claims, cheated its way there by ripping off the designs behind Apple's iPhone and iPad, is a question that jurors will decide in the kind of roll-the-dice trial,” the story says.

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