BPP Law School has moved to make its Mandarin language course a permanent feature on its bulging portfolio.
But the course, which was originally introduced as a one-year pilot from 2009, has received mixed views from City partners, who questioned its practical use in the business world.
On the one hand, Simmons & Simmons graduate recruitment partner Alexander Brown: said: “Language skills are important as it’s important to have lawyers working in countries who are able to engage with clients in the local language and who are familiar with local culture and the market.”
Meanwhile, SNR Denton Graduate Recruitment Partner Jeremy Cape believes that although it is fantastic to learn a language, English is the language of business.
“Mandarin and Arabic, unless you’re a native speaker, is of limited use in the business world,” said Cape. “If you can carry a conversation in Mandarin or Arabic then I’m sure it would impress clients. But feedback from recruitment in our international offices show that you need to be completely bilingual for it to make a real difference in legal practice.”
In response to this, BPP dean Peter Crisp described it as common courtesy to be able to speak a few words of the language of a country you are visiting and that it is good business sense.
He added: “We wanted to offer something different and unusual to really capture people’s imagination. China is an emerging market and economy and therefore it is very positive to offer this,”
“The idea is about widening people’s horizons, giving them an interest outside the law. Feedback has been very positive and it is nice to offer something a little refreshing.”