Courses in American English for foreign lawyers

Rainer Langenhan points to a 3-week summer course on American legal English in Poland.
The course is one originating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and has been ‘on the road’ before. There is an accompanying book for $35 by Teresa Brostoff and Ann Sinsheimer.

The main aim of the course is to prepare foreign lawyers for a one-year LL.M. course in the USA, and it includes training on how to raise your hand in class. I suppose the Socratic method is not inflicted in full on foreign lawyers, but it seems they need a warning. Here’s an extract from the table of contents (but it gets more meaty later).

bq. CHAPTER 1—SKILLS
Conversation Skills
Assignment
Your Role in the Law School Classroom
Listening to a Lecture
Exercise
Matching Exercise
Active Listening
Participating in Classroom Discussions
Defining/Explaining a Term or Concept
Techniques for Defining/Explaining a Term or Concept
English Stress Patterns
Stress within words and phrases—Exercise
Stress within English Sentences—Exercise
Using Stress for Special Purposes—Exercise
Articles
Article Exercise
Preparing Presentations
Presentation—Peer Review
Exam Taking
Culture Shock
Symptoms
Stages of Culture Shock
Culture Shock and Law School
Understanding Your Needs and Motives
How to Fight Culture Shock
Law School Slang Vocabulary
Law School Vocabulary

I would be interested in Law School Slang Vocabulary.

Here’s an example of culture shock from the first article linked above:

bq. One foreign lawyer studying U.S. law in the University of Pittsburgh’s English for Lawyers summer program bought chocolate milk for his coffee—several times—before hitting on the right choice.
That’s just one example of the kinds of cultural adjustments a foreign lawyer can experience when coming to Pitt for an introduction to American law and legal English.

It doesn’t say why he did this several times.

Other courses are held in Germany and elsewhere, also inexpensive. The DAJV has information.

bq. Auch in Europa werden zahlreiche Sommerkurse veranstaltet, die zur Vorbereitung und Einführung in das anglo-amerikanische Recht sehr gut geeignet sind, wie z.B. die von der DAJV mitveranstalteten “American Law Introductory Courses (ALICS)”, das “Leyden-Amsterdam-Columbia Summer Program in American Law”, der Kurs “American Law and Legal Institutions” des Salzburg Seminar in American Studies oder der “International Summer Course in Modern English Law” der University of London.
Über diese Kurse ist wiederholt in den juristischen Fachzeitschriften JuS und JURA berichtet worden. Nähere Informationen sind beim DAAD, bei der Studienberatung der Amerika-Häuser und bei der DAJV erhältlich.

Incidentally, here’s an excellent book on Introduction to Legal English also for $35. It’s by Mark E. Wojcik and is used by the International Law Institute for similar courses. I only have the first edition.

It has good authentic materials of many kinds. One should be careful not to believe all the hype about any book, though.

bq. “What is so outstanding about Professor Wojcik’s work – for the term ‘book’ fails to do it justice – is that it incorporates notions of U.S. law, reasoning, and writing by explaining these concepts in the context of U.S. language and culture.”
Professor Toni M. Fine
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

bq. Employing a hands-on, structured approach, the author leads the reader through carefully crafted exercises that develop the ability to understand and use Anglo-American legal terminology in both written and oral formats.
(Publisher’s blurb)

Mine certainly looks like a book. I’m suspicious of everything that’s ‘carefully crafted’ and have my doubts about ‘written and oral formats’ (is that like landscape and portrait?)

But the book looks OK.

2 thoughts on “Courses in American English for foreign lawyers

  1. Gee whizz! I kindda’ guess the course will be real cool, prosze barzo (Bitte sehr)and will enlighten the likes of me on the lyrics of Eminem’s bum rap.

  2. Well, if you saw the rest of the table of contents you will have seen there is much more interesting material in there, and some of it for practising lawyers rather than LL.M. students I would think: the legal system, federal and state, reading and briefing cases, writing a legal memorandum, using statutes, synthesizing (summarizing?) cases, appellate advocacy, client interviews, negotiation, independent writing and research, and all with a lot of materials.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.