Leanne Sheen, Solicitor

Leanne Sheen is a Solicitor for Allen & Overy LLP.

Working as a Solicitor abroad, Leanne has the chance to use foreign languages all the time, using another language other than English everyday!

Could you give us some examples of when you have used foreign languages at work?

I work in Frankfurt, Germany, and I use German on a regular basis for informal office communication.

I studied French, Spanish, and Portuguese at university.  I regularly liaise with fellow lawyers from Paris, Luxembourg, and Brussels, which allows me to use French on the telephone with my colleagues.

I also use French, Spanish, and German to review simple documents or translate short phrases.  We rely on in-house translators for the bulk of our work, but out-of-hours we occasionally need to gain some understanding urgently.

Would you say that speaking foreign languages is advantageous in your sector?

Yes, and the cross-cultural understanding that comes through learning languages.

How proficient would you say people need to be for language skills to be useful at work?

I think informal, simple skills can make a good impression, as you demonstrate that you are trying to integrate yourself into another culture.

What would you say to a young person about the benefits of speaking at least one other language when entering the workplace?

People with language and cross-cultural skills are greatly appreciated.  Learning languages also gives you a greater appreciation of your own language.

What helped you to learn languages effectively?

I learnt French and Spanish at university.  I learnt German subsequently through evening lessons while working and lessons in-house with my employer.

A massive thank you to Leanne for sharing your story with us!

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