Interview on

During my stay in Split for the EULETA (European Union Legal English Teachers Association) in September I was interviewed by Louise Kulbicki from Study Legal English Podcasts about the use of technologies in legal English teaching and learning.

Surrounded by the beautiful architechture of the Split Old Town and over delicious octopus carpaccio we had a conversation which Louise has put on her website this week.

I hope you will find it informative and inspiring. Enjoy!

The Pustulka Project. Developing Online Testing Software for English for Specific Purposes.

On 21 April 2018, the third day of IABL 2018 World Conference I had a pleasure to present PUSTULKA ( – a new web-based testing software, developed specially for the ESP context, and created by me  – an ESP teacher, together with a software developer. It emerged when the quest for ideal testing software for FLT turned out to be unsuccessful.

With PUSTULKA teachers can create a variety of exercises (including cloze texts, multiple choice, drop-down lists, checkboxes, short and long answers), build tests out of the exercises, assign them online or print as WORD documents. Exercises are easily and quickly parsed (i.e. transferred) from plain text editors (e.g. Word or notepad) to PUSTULKA and the teachers do not need to have the knowledge of html or programming to manage.

PUSTULKA works in all browsers and on all devices and students do not need to create accounts to do the tests. They can view their score and answers immediately after submission. They can also e-learn with PUSTULKA by doing the exercises which teachers make public. There is already a collection of public exercises for you to test on:

Students’ satisfaction survey proved that PUSTULKA fulfilled its task of developing a user-friendly application. 91% of users had definitely or rather positive experience with this application.

The hidden agenda of the Project is to build a teachers’ Community of Practice[1] by inducing collaboration among them. Ideally, teachers will contribute high quality content to the application and share some of their exercises with other contributors. Teachers can comment on other teacher’s exercises, indicate the possibilities of modification or correct mistakes, etc. In this way teachers will benefit from the growing database of exercises, simplify their own and one another’s work, save time on designing and evaluating tests as well as develop their digital competence.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create exercises, assign tests, see a sample test or set up a free trial account, go to PUSTULKA Help section on:

We will be happy to hear your feedback. You can contact us via PUSTULKA web page or directly on

[1] Communities of Practice (CoPs) refer to groups of people who genuinely care about the same real-life problems or hot topics, and who on that basis interact regularly to learn together and from each other.

How to Exploit a Sample Clause in Class

The clause is, for example, a standard indemnity clause like this one below:

Licensee shall indemnify and hold harmless the Licensor, its affiliates and their respective officers, directors and employees from and against all costs, expenses, damages, claims, obligations and liabilities whatsoever from facts or circumstances not attributable to the Licensor including, but not limited to, all costs arising out of the acts or defaults, whether negligent or not, of the Licensee, Licensee’s agents, sub-contractors and employees.

A sample of an authentic clause can be exploited to practise various skills. The first stage may be the selection the terms of art and other legalese words for paraphrasing. This can be done by the teacher or by the students themselves to raise their awareness of the essential features of legal texts. I have bolded the terms of art, examples of legalese and words typical of the language of contracts which I consider significant in the clause above.

Next, the students can be asked to translate the text into their native language to make sure they understand what the clause deals with and really means.

Afterwards, the students write a paraphrase or a summary of the clause using plain English and their own words. Here attention is drawn to the features of plain language, i.e. word order, the length of the sentences, the use of tabulation, linking words, correct punctuation, eliminating nominalisations and the abuse of the passive voice, accuracy, etc.

The paraphrase or the summary can be prepared in a form of an email/letter sent to a client, who needs the clarification of the said clause.

In order to improve speaking the clause can be paraphrased orally in a form of a simulated lawyer-client interview.

Additionally, students can think of potential problems the clause may give rise to when the obligations it contains are or are not carried out.

There are many websites where sample contract clauses may be found, e.g.

Life Skills. What Do Employers Want from Graduates?

Growing popularity of the law studies, overproduction of law graduates, and the new demands of the labour market require the legal English teachers to reformulate their believes and workshop. The role of LSP (Languages for Specific Purposes) teachers is constantly evolving towards the one of the language coaches, who are able to equip their students with the skills that will help the them increase employability at the outset of their careers.

Nowadays employers look for people who communicate well both verbally and in writing. The ability to use a foreign language verbally, to write clearly and succinctly, to demonstrate a wide range of profession related vocabulary, to prove the skill of critical thinking, analyse and research information in order to perform a task, may guarantee the competitive advantage over other candidates. Recruiters often mention drafting as the most striking lack among the job seekers. Therefore, applicants need to demonstrate very good, if not excellent, foreign language skills as early as at the stage of a job interview.

With 20 years of experience as an academic ESP (English for Specific Purposes) teacher I try to model my courses so that my students complete them not only with TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills) certificates, which is the requirement of my University, but also the extensive knowledge of legal and business English skills that they will transfer to respond to the expectations on the labour market when the need arises.

If I were to conduct a traditional needs analysis recommended by the ESP authors, I would have to investigate my students’ prior experience in English learning, identify their strengths and weaknesses, collect information about their lacks, wants and wishes, establish what knowledge and skills they already possess, what learning strategies they apply, what motivates them to learn, and on that basis specify what skills and knowledge they should develop during the course.

TOLES examination syllabus and its requirements, as well as my long experience, may simplify the whole task without the need of conducting the needs analysis sensu stricto. With more advanced students the completion of the task within two academic years is not a very challenging job. However, during that time the freshers start to grow up and mature, sometimes they apply for their first job and start to think about their future seriously. Thanks to them I have started to realise that their target needs, apart from the examination preparation, will also comprise the ability to deal with the tasks assessing their knowledge of English during the recruitment processes. Therefore, developing the so called life skills in the legal English classroom has recently become my secondary objective. Life skills are the skills necessary for active and successful participation in life, in this case in professional life which will help law students and law graduates face the demands of the labour market and prepare them for the challenges of the real, professional world. These may comprise among others: translation, mediation (of meaning), register transfer, public/court speaking, client interviewing, and drafting.

As a linguist and an academic I am not involved in corporate business dealings, so I have decided to track early careers of my prior students with the help of a business oriented social networking service LinkedIn in order to obtain a more detailed feedback. From my past experience and contacts with practising lawyers I knew that law graduates are expected to be professional and independent, have strong drafting, legal research and analytical skills. They have to work hard, be dedicated, enthusiastic and driven to achieve excellent results, take initiative, be brave to make judgments or prepare a memo with an objective analysis, work well with others and communicate well with clients, be flexible and able to adapt to the needs of the supervising lawyers. However, I wanted to know how ideal job candidates are recruited in practice.

A group of fifteen students was contacted and asked to participate in an email interview providing me with the descriptive answers to the questions concerning the particular tasks they had had to perform in English during the job interviews they had attended and the use of English later on the job.

My respondents often stressed that the knowledge of English was usually tested during the recruitment processes in big, multinational corporations and quite rarely in small, Polish companies and law offices. They mentioned that most often they participated in a casual conversation about general topic, e.g. their interests within the area of law or the topic of their Master theses. The objective of the conversation was to check their ability to express themselves verbally, their vocabulary including job-related vocabulary. Some respondents mentioned that such conversations had had sometimes been conducted by native speakers.

In big corporations linguistic tests are a part of the recruitment procedure. The tests may consist in correcting mistakes in an English text, completing a grammatical test, multiple choice test or lexical test checking the knowledge of specialist vocabulary which resembles certificate examinations such as TOLES or ILEC (International Legal English Certificate organized by Cambridge English). The tests are sometimes short essays or summaries of the texts on the topics related to the branch of business which the company operates in. The topics are often designed so that they also check the so called commercial awareness, i.e. the general knowledge of up-to-date economic, political or social affairs. The tests may be conducted in a traditional paper form during the job interview or online.

Another kind of assignment which is quite common are translation tasks. My respondents mentioned the following kinds of texts which they had had been asked to translate into English: sample contract clauses, extracts from the codes (e.g. the Civil Code or the Penal Code) or other specialist and legal texts, e.g. from the area of property law, company documentation, e.g. shareholders’ meetings resolutions, agendas, or power of attorneys.

Other written tasks applied during the recruitment processes were quite varied and consisted in drafting a note, pleadings, a balance sheet, an e-mail to a client/customer, editing a text written in an informal register to the typical lawyerlike style. Sometimes candidates were asked to solve case studies within a set time limit, draft a legal opinion or give legal advice to a client verbally, e.g. on establishing a business in Poland and optimizing taxes. The biggest and most prestigious employers (the Big Four or the Magic Circle) use various online tests which are in English but not necessarily check the knowledge of the language as such but other skills, e.g. numerical, verbal or reasoning ones. Candidates solving these tests have to read a lot of text and understand the instructions in English, usually under the time pressure, but the tests eventually provide the recruiters with the non-linguistic feedback about the candidates.

The range of tasks which law graduates may be faced with is vast. Therefore, it is advisable to enrich  university language courses syllabi with the activities aimed at the development of the written skill. Following our students careers may help us gain practical information what kind of tasks these might be. Unfortunately, written tasks are usually not favourably welcomed by the students, since they are usually very demanding, time consuming and more difficult as compared with the tasks developing other skills. Incorporating them into the syllabi will definitely pay off in the long run.

Jakich umiejętności językowych szukają pracodawcy wśród absolwentów?

„Będąc” doświadczonym nauczycielem akademickim i lektorem prawniczego języka angielskiego, moje zajęcia staram się prowadzić tak, aby studenci wyszli z nich przygotowani nie tylko do certyfikatowego, brytyjskiego egzaminu TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills), czego wymaga od nich i ode mnie uczelnia, ale również by przekazywana przeze mnie wiedza dała im przewagę konkurencyjną na rynku pracy.

Gdybym chciała przeprowadzić książkową analizę potrzeb moich słuchaczy, taką jaka zalecana jest na początku każdego kursu języka obcego dla celów specjalistycznych, powinnam zapytać ich o ich  wcześniejsze doświadczenia w nauce języka angielskiego, zidentyfikować ich mocne i słabe strony, zgromadzić informacje o ich brakach, potrzebach lub życzeniach, określić jaką wiedzę i umiejętności już posiadają, jakie strategie uczenia się stosują, co kieruje ich motywacją, i … wskazać jakie umiejętności powinni nabyć w trakcie kursu.

Jeżeli te docelowe umiejętności wynikają z wymagań egzaminu certyfikatowego, to nasze (moje i studentów) zadanie jest dość proste. Dzięki mojemu doświadczeniu wiem jak to zrobić bez przeprowadzania zalecanej analizy potrzeb. Mam na realizację tego celu dwa lata; dwa lata w ciągu których moi młodzi i niedoświadczeni pierwszoroczniacy zaczynają dojrzewać i dorośleć, czasami szukać pierwszej pracy, poważnie myśleć o swojej przyszłości. Dzięki nim ja zaczynam rozumieć, że ich sytuacja docelowa to również radzenie sobie z zadaniami sprawdzającymi znajomość języka angielskiego w procesie rekrutacji. Moim celem staje się umożliwienie moim słuchaczom rozwinięcie tzw. sprawności życiowych (ang. life skills), czyli umiejętności, które pozwolą młodym studentom i absolwentom prawa zmierzyć się z wymaganiami rynku pracy.

Pracodawcy cenią u absolwentów umiejętność komunikacji zarówno w mowie jak i na piśmie. Szczególna waga przypisywana jest umiejętności pisania w języku obcym w sposób zwięzły i jasny, z wykorzystaniem branżowego słownictwa, odzwierciedlająca zdolność wyszukiwania informacji oraz myślenia krytycznego i analitycznego. Jej brak często jest podkreślany przez pracodawców, a ci coraz częściej za pomocą zadań pisemnych sprawdzają poziom znajomości języka angielskiego wśród kandydatów.

Wykorzystując sieć LinkedIn nawiązałam kontakt z moimi studentami, którzy rozpoczęli już pracę zawodową i poprosiłam ich, aby podzielili się swoim doświadczeniem nabytym w procesach rekrutacji, które już przeszli.

Moi respondenci często podkreślali, że znajomość języka angielskiego była sprawdzana zazwyczaj w czasie rekrutacji do dużych, międzynarodowych firm, a rzadziej w małych, polskich firmach i kancelariach prawniczych. Najczęściej wymieniali oni luźną rozmowę na tematy ogólne np. zainteresowania z dziedziny prawa, temat pracy magisterskiej. Celem takiej rozmowy było sprawdzenie zdolności formułowania wypowiedzi i zasobu słownictwa, często słownictwa branżowego. Zdarzało się, że rozmowy te były przeprowadzane przez native speakerów.

W dużych firmach kandydaci poddawani są testom językowym, które mogą polegać na: poprawieniu błędów językowych w tekście angielskim, rozwiązaniu testu gramatycznego, testu wyboru lub testu sprawdzającego znajomość słownictwa specjalistycznego, który przypomina egzaminy certyfikatowe TOLES lub ILEC (International Legal English Certificate organizowany przez Cambridge English). Testy językowe mogą mieć też przybierać formę wypracowania lub streszczenia tekstu na tematy związane z branżą, w której działa firma lub sprawdzające wiedzę związaną z aktualnymi tematami gospodarczymi, politycznymi, społecznymi, czyli tzw. commercial awareness. Testy językowe mogą być przeprowadzane w wersji papierowej w czasie rozmowy kwalifikacyjnej lub online.

Znajomość języka angielskiego bywa też sprawdzana za pomocą zadań, w których należy wykonać tłumaczenie tekstu. W doświadczeniach moich studentów najczęściej pojawiały się tłumaczenia zapisów umowy handlowej, fragmentów kodeksów (Kodeksu cywilnego, Kodeksu karnego) lub innych tekstów specjalistycznych i prawniczych, np. z obszaru prawa rzeczowego, dokumentów spółek, np. uchwał z posiedzeń, pełnomocnictw.

Inne zadania pisemne zadawane w procesach rekrutacji polegały na sporządzeniu notki, pisma procesowego, bilansu, napisaniu maila do klienta, przeredagowaniu tekstu napisanego w stylu nieformalnym na tekst napisany językiem prawniczym. Ponadto kandydaci mogą być poproszeni o rozwiązanie case studies w określonym czasie, napisanie opinii prawnej lub ustne doradzenie zagranicznemu klientowi jak otworzyć firmę w Polsce i jak zoptymalizować podatki. Największe i najbardziej prestiżowe firmy wykorzystują również testy w języku angielskim, które niekoniecznie sprawdzają znajomość języka obcego, ale inne umiejętności, np. matematyczne.

Wachlarz zadań jest bogaty i uważam, że warto wzbogacać treści kursu języka angielskiego dla celów specjalistycznych o zadania pisemne. Niestety zazwyczaj nie należą one do ulubionych, co zapewne wynika z faktu, że są bardziej wymagające, czasochłonne i trudniejsze w porównaniu ćwiczeniami rozwijającymi inne sprawności.

Ciekawa jestem, jakie doświadczenia mają czytelnicy bloga. Zachęcam do dzielenia się nimi w komentarzach.


Osoby uczące się prawniczego języka angielskiego na pewno rozumieją ogrom wysiłku, jaki należy włożyć w naukę kolokacji…

Słownik Języka Polskiego PWN definiuje związki wyrazowe, czyli tak zwane kolokacje, jako „często spotykane połączenia wyrazów, których znaczenie wynika ze znaczenia ich składników”. W języku angielskim kolokacje mogą składać się z różnej liczby i różnych rodzajów wyrazów. Najprostszy podział wyodrębnia sześć rodzajów kolokacji: przymiotnik + rzeczownik (wrongful dismissal), (podmiot-) rzeczownik + czasownik (court ruled), rzeczownik + rzeczownik (piece of advice), przysłówek + przymiotnik (summarily tried), czasownik + przysłówek (severely criticize) i czasownik + (dopełnienie-) rzeczownik (receive a salary).

Aby nieco skomplikować sprawę można dodatkowo podzielić grupę czasownik + rzeczownik na dwie bardziej szczegółowe: czasownik + rzeczownik (make a decision) i czasownik + przyimek + rzeczownik (come to a decision).

Aby sprawę skomplikować już całkowicie możemy dodać więcej przyimków do angielskich kolokacji i utworzyć kolejne kategorie: rzeczownik + przyimek (interest in), przyimek + rzeczownik (on demand) i przymiotnik + przyimek (worth of), które stanowią tak zwane kolokacje gramatyczne. Znajomy doktorant próbował w swojej pracy badawczej policzyć wyrażenia przyimkowe występujące w tekstach wykorzystywanych w nauce języka prawniczego i uzyskał wynik… 290.

Tworzenie kolokacji w przeciwieństwie do zasad gramatyki nie podlega żadnym jasno sprecyzowanym regułom. Pewne słowa występują razem tylko dlatego, że w takim połączeniu używa się ich od dawna. Trudno jest wyjaśnić, dlaczego w języku angielskim organizując przyjęcie mówimy „to throw, hold, have a party” a nie „to make a party”. Podobnie w języku prawniczym użyjemy wyrażenia „to break the law” mówiąc o łamaniu prawa, ale już „to breach a contract” mając na myśli naruszenie warunków umowy i „to infringe a copyright” odnosząc się do naruszenia praw autorskich. Opanowanie i znajomość kolokacji jest zatem jednym z najtrudniejszych aspektów procesu uczenia się języka prawniczego i jest dużym wyzwaniem dla słuchaczy.

Część kolokacji w języku prawniczym jest stosunkowo elastyczna i niektóre czasowniki, przysłówki lub przymiotniki mogą być zastąpione ich synonimami bez zmiany znaczenia danego związku wyrazowego. Na przykład w wyrażeniu „to settle a dispute” czasownik „to settle” można zastąpić czasownikiem „to resolve” i nie spowoduje to zmiany znaczenia całej frazy.

Istnieje jednak grupa kolokacji typowych dla branżowego języka prawniczego, które powstały w wyniku wieloletniej tradycji. Są to wyrażenia, które były używane przez pokolenia prawników, przekazywane z pokolenia na pokolenie w tekstach, często bardzo niepoprawnych gramatycznie, składniowo i interpunkcyjnie. To jednak w oparciu o te teksty kształciły się kolejne roczniki prawników i wykorzystywały pewne, utarte i utrwalone przez tradycję wyrażenia i zwroty mówiąc o konkretnych zagadnieniach, zjawiskach i elementach procesu prawnego. Użycie innych wyrażeń i zwrotów wprowadziłoby dwuznaczność i niejasność. Dlatego też, w procesie nauczania i uczenia się angielskiego języka prawniczego tak bardzo ważne jest rozwijanie znajomości specjalistycznego słownictwa ze szczególnym naciskiem na kolokacje, gdyż mają one wpływ nie tylko na płynność wypowiedzi, ale również świadczą o profesjonalizmie użytkownika. Zwolennik prostego angielskiego Rupert Haigh ilustruje powyższe zagadnienie przykładami kolokacji (czasownik + rzeczownik) używanymi do określenia zakończenia różnorodnych procesów, spraw, zdarzeń w obrębie prawa:  „annul marriage/contract”, „cancel order/meeting/appointment”, „discharge obligation/duty/invoice/contract/from liability”, „dismiss application/employee/appeal”, „repeal law/statute”, „repudiate contract”, „rescind contract”, „revoke order/power of attorney/ permission/authorization”, „terminate contract/employment”, „withdraw  offer/permission/support”.

Powyższe przykłady pokazują jak ogromnym wyzwaniem jest dążenie do poprawności językowej w procesie uczenia się języka prawniczego, co z kolei jest jedną z najważniejszych umiejętności oczekiwanych przez pracodawców. Badanie przeprowadzone przez Catherine Mason z wydawnictwa Global Legal English wśród największych międzynarodowych kancelarii prawniczych, tzw. magicznego kręgu, w 2010 roku potwierdziło, że doskonała znajomość języka angielskiego jest jednym z najważniejszych kryteriów rekrutacyjnych. Badania cytowane powyżej pokazują, że wyrażenia przyimkowe są bardzo istotnym elementem języka prawniczego i mogą być źródłem wielu nieścisłości jak chociażby w wyrażeniu „submit your offer WITHIN 7 days” (w ciągu 7 dni, tj. któregokolwiek dnia przed upływem 7 dni) i „submit your offer IN 7 days” (za 7 dni, tj. w siódmym dniu licząc od dzisiaj). Innym przykładem jest zrozumienie różnicy pomiędzy „draft the contract BY 5 o’clock” (napisać/skończyć pisanie do godz. 5.00) i ,,draft the contract UNTIL 5 o’clock” (pisać do godz. 5.00).

Jeśli są Państwo zainteresowani rozwijaniem swojej znajomości prawniczego języka angielskiego zachęcam do korzystania z, opracowanych przeze mnie i moich studentów z Akademii Leona Koźmińskiego, gotowych, darmowych fiszek dostępnych wraz z ćwiczeniami na stronie oraz na urządzeniach mobilnych po zainstalowaniu aplikacji memrise (iPhone i Android).

Memrise Tutorial

This week I am going to present at the BLEC Conference „LANGUAGE AND LAW – TRADITIONS, TRENDS AND PERSPECTIVES” at the University of Białystok. I will talk about using memrise in teaching Legal English. Below you can find the abstract of my presentation.

I have also prepared a handout in which I explain step by step how to create courses on memrise. I hope it will be useful for you and your students.

Memrise is an educational tool available both online and for mobile devices. Memrise uses flashcards and mnemonic techniques to aid in teaching foreign languages and memorizing information from other subjects, e.g. geography, law or mathematics. Memrise courses are created by its users through the process of crowdsourcing, therefore they are tailored to the individual needs of the users and may focus on the specific content of a particular coursebook or classes.

The paper will attempt to present possibilities of using memrise in teaching and learning legal English vocabulary during a tertiary course leading to TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills) certificate examination. The paper will look various types of exercises which facilitate memorizing vocabulary, learning collocations, prepositional phrases, develop the skill of paraphrasing and defining legal terms of art in plain English. Application of the crowdsourcing method enables the learners to participate in the process of the course creation and constitutes for them a supplementary, out of class exposure to the target language.

The second part of the paper will discuss the results of the research conducted by the author among her law students. The aim of the research was to investigate the students’ opinions about memrise as a tool which might facilitate individual learning of the specialist language as well as to assess whether memrise may influence the test results achieved by the students during the legal English course. The paper will contrastively analyse the progress tests results achieved by the students who have used memrise to revise and recycle language material and those who have chosen traditional (non-mobile) methods of learning. The research will also attempt to address the question whether the students who have been the contributors to the content for memrise courses have performed in tests better than those who have only been the users.

The Legal English Manual – a Review

The Legal English Manual

by Alison Wiebalck, Clemens von Zedtwitz,

Richard Norman and Kathrin Weston Walsh

Manz, C.H. Beck, Helbing Lichtenhahn 2013

A new manual on legal English, by four authors all of whom are qualified legal professional with either British, American or Swiss background, comes from C.H.Beck in cooperation with Manz and Helbing Lichtenhahn.

The manual is not a traditional legal English coursebook. The first and the main part of the manual is a glossary book which presents legal terminology for fourteen areas of law in a form of short texts which explain the most important topics of the law and present the legal terms of art in context, usually Anglo-American but with some references made to Swiss law.

The practice areas include: contract law, tort law, company law, employment law, family law, inheritance law, insurance law, intellectual property law, competition law, civil procedure, arbitration, bankruptcy, tax law and criminal law. This cross-sectional approach makes the manual a useful tool for legal English learners who wish to quickly grasp the legal terms in a nutshell, revise material they have already covered in a legal English course or prepare for legal English examinations since the content of the manual corresponds with the syllabi of the most recognizable legal English examinations  (e.g. TOLES).

Each of the fourteen areas of law is organized in the same pattern. First the key legal terms are presented and used in a text clarifying various legal issues. Then the use of the most important terms is illustrated with some authentic samples of texts showing how the terms are used by lawyers. Later three or four definitions of the most representative terms in each area are provided and finally at the end of each section there is a collocations corner.

From the methodological point of view such organization of the book content has certain advantages, since it:

  • presents the most important legal English vocabulary in context in one book
  • uses plain English which reflects the current trends in linguistics and law
  • clearly explains the intricacies of the law in short notes loaded with the terms of art
  • shows how to clearly define sometimes complex legal terms
  • stresses the importance of collocations.

The texts contained in the manual can be of help not only for legal English learners but also for teachers who can use the them in a variety of ways to revise the language already taught for example in a form of short dictoglosses (i.e. classroom dictations in which students are asked to reconstruct a text after they listening and noting down key words only).

The only drawback which I have spotted so far is the lack of alphabetical index at the end of the manual which could help the users find a specific term in the book faster and without much effort.

The consecutive two parts of the book concentrate on the development of writing and speaking skills, while the last part is an overview of plain English and contains a short history of this linguistic phenomenon and the rules for writing plain which I myself strongly promote.

The second, legal writing part is definitely useful, since not many coursebooks teach legal writing. The manual clarifies the issue of register transfer by opposing informal and formal language for correspondence. Besides it contains a vast collection of standard phrases and templates for a legal memorandum, a letter to opposing counsel, a letter to a client and a reply letter agreeing and declining a request for documents or information.

The part of the manual for oral communication contains an incredibly rich collection of phrases and expressions for oral advocacy, oral negotiation, client interview and job interview.

I recommend the manual as a self-study book for all learners of legal English and as a supplementary material for any legal English course to be used in the class for presentation or revision of legal vocabulary, teaching paraphrasing, defining and collocations, for developing writing skill and preparation for speaking tasks.

EDIT 16 January 2018: the second edition of Legal English Manual is now available at


Common Law Legal English and Grammar – a Review

9781849465762A new monograph on legal English by Alison Riley and Patricia Sours comes from Hart Publishing. As a legal English teacher and a great proponent of plain English I approached the book with enthusiasm and desire to find some inspiration for my legal English classes, as the new academic year is about to begin.

The book is not a traditional legal English coursebook but a university textbook on legal English, explaining the intricacies of this specialist variant of the English language. The book, therefore, is addressed to rather advanced learners – from upper-intermediate to advanced level – and legal English practitioners.

The book provides the reader with a vast and thorough analysis of the legal language; however, we should not be discouraged by the 503 pages of the book, since the authors use plain English and clearly explain the features of the legal jargon.

The textbook is composed of six parts. The first one presents features of the English language used within common law contexts as well as internationally. The remaining five parts cover the language of different areas of law, which include: legal system and the British constitution, international treaties, human rights and European Integration, criminal law, tort law and contract law.

Each part of the book is divided into three chapters: (1) Language and Law, (2) Legal Grammar and (3) Consolidation.

The author of Language and Law chapters, Alison Riley, builds a foundation of legal knowledge for each area of law, explains the basic legal concepts and introduces technical language of the law. The author achieves her aim through the presentation and explanation of the legal concepts in context (e.g. cases, judgments, analysis of authentic excerpts from legal documents, literature, etc.). These chapters offer also lexical tasks through which the readers examine and analyse legal vocabulary in context, interpret the meaning of legal terms and learn how it may change in various contexts (e.g. between civil and criminal law).

Legal Grammar section prepared by Patricia Sours provides the learners with the knowledge on punctuation in legal texts, basic sentence structure, verb forms, word formation, adverbial clauses and nominal structures. The author illustrates her notes with examples extracted from authentic sources and provides opportunities for practice in tasks accompanied with the key which saves teacher preparation time and makes the book a self-study manual.

Each part of the book end with Consolidation usually containing five to six tasks in which the learners can test and expand their knowledge of legal vocabulary, practice defining technical terms, form collocations as well as test reading comprehension skills. Key to consolidation tasks is also provided.

“Common Law Legal English and Grammar” is definitely the title to remember for those interested in not only learning legal English terminology but also understanding the usage of the legal terms of art in context. The authors teach the readers legal terminology but also equip them with legal knowledge. They use brilliant and memorable examples to illustrate the use of language, selecting them from the history of common law but also literature and news satisfying in this way the tastes of both lawyers and linguists.

I will strongly recommend the book to my colleagues – legal English practitioners – as well as my most ambitious and linguistically advanced law students.





Thank You Letter

This year I have received the most touching and memorable thank you letter from my students.
Such moments do not happen often. But when they do happen, you understand that what you on a daily basis and sometimes routinely makes sense.
Thank you my third year group 2 and may all your plans come true.

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