In today’s interconnected world, communicating effectively in English is a crucial skill that transcends borders and industries. English for Specific Purposes (ESP) takes this idea further. It tailors language instruction to suit the specific needs of learners within a particular field or profession. Legal English is a prime example of ESP. It equips legal professionals and law students with the linguistic tools to navigate the intricacies of the legal landscape.
- Improve your Legal Terminology Background
- Acquire Lawyering Skills
- Stay updated
- Attend Workshops and Seminars
- Take Online Law Courses
- Network with Legal Professionals
- Familiarize yourself with The Test of Legal English Skills
- Soft Skills Development
- Register for the SpeechLex Legal English Book Club
- Gain a Law Degree
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This guest blog post was written by Claudia Amato.
Having a legal background or training is not mandatory. However, it greatly enhances a teacher’s ability to provide context and clarity when teaching. A Legal English trainer should also possess “soft skills.” For example, patience, adaptability, and a student-focused approach, particularly since learners may come from various cultural and legal backgrounds.
Improve your Legal Terminology Background
Having a solid grasp of Legal English terminology is of paramount importance for will-be Legal English teachers. Legal terminology is the cornerstone of the legal profession. Therefore, understanding legal terms helps teachers explain legal concepts accurately. Also it will help them assist students who need to understand complex legal documents. Moreover, a good grasp of legal terminology boosts student confidence. It will help them see their teacher as a trusted expert in legal language.
I highly recommend starting with “Introduction to International Legal English: A course for classroom or Self-Study Use: Students book” by Amy Krois-Lindner, Matt Firth, and TransLegal. And then going on with a high-quality law dictionary — “Black’s Law Dictionary” by Bryan A. Garner. I regard it as one of the most authoritative and comprehensive law dictionaries ever published.
Acquire Lawyering Skills
This term refers to the essential abilities and competencies that lawyers need to effectively practice law. These skills encompass legal research, critical thinking, persuasive writing, negotiation, together with oral advocacy.
A comprehensive book designed to address the needs of law professionals is Lawyering skills and the legal process by Caroline Maughan, and Julian Webb. If you plan to teach law classes consider using this book: “The Insider’s Guide to Legal Skills. Routledge” by Emily Allbon, and Sanmeet Kaur Dua.
Staying updated on legal news is a fundamental practice for aspiring Legal English teachers. Firstly, it allows them to maintain a current understanding of legal developments and trends, which is essential for delivering up-to-date. Legal news also provides valuable context and real-world examples that can be integrated into lessons. They make the learning experience more engaging and practical. Undoubtedly, teachers should watch for legal news like new laws, important court cases, global agreements, and key industry issues.
A good starting point is “The Law Society Gazette. Law Gazette” for those seeking news about the UK. ‘The ABA Journal – American Bar Association“ for those who are interested in legal news from the US.
Furthermore, I’ve recently discovered this podcast “Legal News & Analysis on litigation, policy, deals. Law360” which shrinks, in each weekly episode, a concise summary of the key legal events from the previous seven days.
Attend Workshops and Seminars
Another key point is to participate in workshops and seminars focused on legal English teaching. These events offer insights, strategies, and networking opportunities with experts.
For example, I am part of the European Legal English Teachers’ Association (EULETA). As a matter of fact, we meet online for the EULETA Teacher Network Meeting every month. In each session, we focus on a topic related to legal English teaching and share ideas, experiences, and resources. In fact, registration is free and open to non-EULETA members.
To learn more about this association and how you can get involved, go to “The European Legal English Teachers’ Association.”
Take Online Law Courses
Enroll in online courses or certifications specifically designed for the legal industry.
While various online platforms offer legal training at little or no cost, my preferred choice has always been Coursera. Firstly, it offers immersive courses from reputable universities worldwide. Secondly, you will enrich learning experience. Thirdly, you will get a certificate if you pass successfully. The certificate will serve you as a valuable tool for career progression. Today there are 502 courses.
Take a look at the courses available here: “Top law courses – learn law online.”
Network with Legal Professionals
While I may not consider myself a networking expert, I dedicated the past year to actively engaging in networking opportunities whenever possible. In my experience, initiating meaningful connections on LinkedIn has always served as an excellent starting point.
I cannot emphasize enough the crucial role that associations such as EULETA and ILLA play in this field. Take a moment to explore their websites, get to know the members of their board. There you will find people who actively contribute at various levels. Identify those whose work resonates with you, and don’t hesitate to connect with them on LinkedIn. This will allow you to gain valuable ideas and guidance from people who are successful paths in this field.
Familiarize yourself with The Test of Legal English Skills
The Test of Legal English Skills (TOLES) is a standardized examination designed to assess a candidate’s proficiency in legal English. The TOLES exam series includes three levels: Foundation, Higher and Advanced.
Certainly, the TOLES exams are widely recognised by law firms, universities, and legal organisations worldwide. Therefore, aspiring legal English teachers should familiarise themselves with this exam. Because there is a high likelihood that students may seek their guidance in preparing for it.
Start your journey by taking a look at the official website, “Legal English Toles Exam English for lawyers.”
Soft Skills Development
Legal English learners come from diverse backgrounds. But what they always appreciate is learning practical skills like email writing, networking, etc. The difficult part is adapting our teaching materials to situations that law professionals could really encounter in their daily lives. Luckily, Natasha Costello and Louise Kulbicki have released this book: “Practical English language skills for lawyers: Improving your legal English”. I will surely use with my new students.
Register for the SpeechLex Legal English Book Club
Aspiring legal English teachers are welcome to join my Legal English Book Club. We gather once a month to discuss themes connected to our selected books. It’s not a formal legal English class, but rather a relaxed space for conversations related to law and justice. Registration is free. Sign up.
Gain a Law Degree
While a background in law isn’t always required, having a law degree or related courses can be advantageous. It provides a foundational understanding of legal terminology and concepts. Therefore, if you are a law student with experience as an English teacher, you can blend your passions. For example, you can start your journey by teaching legal English to fellow university students. This will help you make some extra money, and it will also help you gain valuable work experience.
Remember, becoming a proficient legal English teacher takes time and dedication but the path is also immensely rewarding. Legal English teachers play a crucial role in the legal profession. Their expertise facilitates the exchange of legal ideas, promoting harmony among individuals and professionals from diverse legal backgrounds.
When I think back on my path, I realise that teaching legal English is more than just language instruction. Teaching legal English helps professionals share their ideas with a broader audience, and contribute to the global legal conversation.
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Claudia Amato – a lawyer linguist with expertise as an Italian lawyer, translator, and trainer. I support law professionals boost their legal English skills and unlock new career opportunities.
Claudia has also written another bog post for #teachingisfun: