Prof. Dundon’s publications on display at Georgetown Law Faculty Scholarship & Teaching Luncheon

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer.

We were excited to see Prof. John Dundon, who teaches in Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM Program, representing Georgetown Legal English at the recent Georgetown Law Faculty Scholarship & Teaching Luncheon. The scholarship display included two recent publications (see below) by Prof. Dundon, who has a J.D., M.A. in Applied Linguistics and is in the process of obtaining his PhD in Sociolinguistics.

  • Dundon, J.T. (2024). Language ideologies and speaker categorization: A case study from the U.S. legal system. International Journal of Legal Discourse, 9(1), 1-27.  
  • Dundon, J.T. (2023). ‘A shifting precipice of unsettled law’? A survey of how U.S. courts treat expert testimony using forensic stylistics. The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 30(1), 119-137.

ILEA/LL.M. Conference: Afghan Legal Professionals & Legal English Assessment + Support

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer.

I was honored to have the opportunity to present last week on a panel titled Legal English Assessment & Refugee Afghan Judges and Lawyers: A Case Study as part of the 2024 ILEA/LL.M. Online Conference (ILEA/LL.M. = International Education Abroad and Administrators of LLM Programs) hosted by American University Washington College of Law and put on by the organizing committee of Melanija Radnovic (American University Washington College of Law), Diane Edelman (Brooklyn Law School), Jenny Hutcherson (Cornell Law School), Karen McMichael (Temple University Beasley School of Law), and Joshua Alter (Northwestern Pritzker School of Law).

[Link to presentation slides] [Link to video recording] [Link to audio transcript]

In addition to me, the panel included:

The presentation described efforts by Prof. Edelson, Dr. Kurtz, and me to develop a better approach to legal English assessment for law school purposes, and the intersection with the ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program (the “Pilot Program”), led by Michael Byowitz and Dana Katz, the Chair/Founder and the Vice-Chair respectively of the ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Resettlement Task Force, which administers the Pilot Program. The program was in need of language assessment support to help it guide former Afghan judges and lawyers in re-establishing their careers in the United States, a common path being matriculation in a one-year LL.M. program at a US law school followed by the taking of a bar exam.

Between August 2023 and April 2024 we conducted over 20 legal English assessments using an approach designed with the help of Dr. Kurtz’s expertise based on a variety of underlying principles and best practices which Kurtz detailed in the presentation.

About halfway through the assessment process, the Pilot Program also communicated a need for pre-LL.M. Legal English support to help the Afghan legal professionals improve their language and knowledge in connection with the US legal education system. This led to the creation of a self-guided online Legal English program comprised of six modules on Edelson’s USLawEssentials learning management platform, which has proved to be a hit with the Afghan legal professionals.

The takeaways from the presentation were that the collaboration has been extremely effective in better supporting the Afghan legal professionals, and all of us involved have greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn from each other and contribute to an innovative solution to a challenging bigger picture problem. It has also been a unique honor and pleasure to have the opportunity to interact with some of the top legal minds from Afghanistan.

We are very grateful to Prof. Radnovic and the ILEA/LL.M. Conference organizers for giving us the chance to share this experience.


More information here about the ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program

If you would like to make a donation to the program, you can use the link or QR code below.

Two-Year Students and Faculty Engage with Former Ambassador Williamson at GULC Event

Post by Profs. Heather Weger and Julie Lake

On April 24, 2024, just as the US was authorizing support for Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against Russia’s ongoing war of aggression, current Two-Year LL.M. students (Salome Adeishvili, Vishnupriya Bhonsle, Zhicheng Hong, Junsik Park, and Daisuke Tomita) and faculty (Prof. Julie Lake and Prof. Heather Weger) attended a panel discussion titled “The War in Ukraine: Investigating and Prosecuting War Crimes.” Facilitated by Clint Williamson (former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and current Lead Coordinator of the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group for Ukraine), the informative and somber panel featured analyses and advice from three war crimes experts with a focus on conflict-related sexual violence:

From left to right (Vishnupriya Bhonsle, Salome Adeishvili, Former Ambassador Clint Williamson, Professor Julie Lake, Professor Heather Weger, Junsik Park, Zhicheng Hong, Daisuke Tomita)
  • Davorka Čolak: ACA Prosecutions Coordinator, Senior Croatian War Crimes Prosecutor
  • Irisa Čevra: ACA Deputy Prosecution Coordinator, Senior Bosnian War Crimes Prosecutor
  • Ingrid Elliott: ACA Prosecutions Coordinator for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), UK Foreign Office Global Expert on CRSVanel

ALWD Teaching Grant awarded to Georgetown Legal English Faculty for second year in a row

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer.

Congratulations to Georgetown Legal English faculty members Profs. Julie Lake and Heather Weger, who both teach in Georgetown’s unique Two-Year LLM program, for being awarded a Teaching Grant by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) for their grant proposal titled, “An Innovative Approach to Strengthen Multilingual Student Voices and Autonomy in Legal Writing Classes”!

Georgetown Legal English faculty member Prof. Stephen Horowitz (who also teaches in the Two-Year LLM Program) previously received an ALWD Teaching Grant in 2023 for his proposal (with Prof. Daniel Edelson of Seton Hall Law) to create a self-guided online legal writing course that would make legal writing instruction easily available to students in anywhere in the world at no cost and on their own schedule. (The course–Essential US Legal Writing for International Law Students & Attorneys–has since been made available to Ukrainian law schools and to Afghan judges and lawyers connected with the ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program.)

Below is Lake and Weger’s innovative proposal:


“An Innovative Approach to Strengthen Multilingual Student Voices and Autonomy in Legal Writing Classes”

Summary: For our teaching idea, we will develop a pedagogical sequence (with tasks and materials) that empower multilingual students, arguably a marginalized sector of law school, to assess and revise their writing using an asset-based lens. 

Rationale: Over the past 10 years, as we have taught legal writing to multilingual students in law school, we have seen how these writers are decentered as they navigate their educational experience. This led us to reflect on our teaching practices in our legal writing courses, resulting in several pedagogical shifts aligned with asset-based principles (MacSwan, 2020) that foster a sense of belonging and inclusivity for multilingual (and monolingual) students. The next step is to create a pedagogical process that empowers students to take charge of their legal writing experience and develop their legal writing voice. 

Becoming an autonomous writer with a clearly defined individual “voice” (Lancaster, 2019; Matsuda & Tardy, 2007) can be challenging for any novice legal writer and doubly-challenging for multilingual writers. The first step toward developing one’s voice is for emerging writers to develop the ability to analyze their own written texts (Teng, 2020).

Yet, in our legal writing courses, we have noticed that multilingual students often struggle to critically engage with writing in their non-dominant language; instead, they look to teachers to “correct” their written texts.

To help learners overcome this dependency and develop their legal writing voice, we want to transform traditional standard-based pedagogy (Cox, Malone, & Winke, 2018) into asset-based pedagogy (Lubbe & Eloff, 2004) as we design a pedagogical sequence that encourages learners to take charge of their legal writing process.

Teaching idea: We will develop a pedagogical sequence with tasks and materials that relies on an asset-based pedagogy (e.g., MacSwan, 2020) for teaching writing to multilingual law students (our population.)


And here is the official email announcement from ALWD:

Congratulations to ALWD Teaching Grants Recipients

Dear Colleagues:

The ALWD Board and Teaching Grants Committee congratulate the recipients of our 2024 grants! Thank you to all who submitted proposals, and we look forward to the results of the grants, as summarized below.

Aysha Ames (Fordham University School of Law) proposed “Counter Story: Using `Outsider’ Narratives to Tell Complete Stories.” Aysha will “create a two-credit upper-level legal writing course on counter storytelling with the goal of centering non-dominant narratives in the law. Counter storytelling creates space for untold narratives and truths from ‘outsiders.'”

Stephanie Der (LMU Loyola Law School-Los Angeles) proposed “Rethinking the Legal Research Process in Light of Generative AI.” Stephanie will “draft proposed guidelines on how to shift the way we teach the legal research process to optimize the benefits of AI while alerting students to its limitations” and “support these guidelines with research exercises aimed at helping students to understand when and how to use Lexis AI and Westlaw AI.”

Julie Lake (Georgetown University Law Center) and Heather Weger (Georgetown University Law Center) proposed “An Innovative Approach to Strengthen Multilingual Student Voices and Autonomy in Legal Writing Classes.” They will develop teaching materials that “empower multilingual students, arguably a marginalized sector of law school, to assess and revise their writing using an asset-based lens.”

Bryan Schwartz (University of Arizona Rogers College of Law) proposed “Advanced Lawyering Skills for the NextGen Bar & Future Criminal Practitioner” and will develop “writing projects and simulation exercises aimed at testing and reinforcing the first-year legal writing concepts as well as the foundational lawyering skills likely to be tested by the NextGen Bar Performance Tasks.”

Carolyn Williams (University of North Dakota School of Law) proposed “Team-Based Learning Study Guides and Readiness Assessment Quizzes.” Carolyn will rewrite Study Guides and Readiness Assessment Quizzes for updated material for team-based learning.

Also, the ALWD website has material from recently completed grants. ReviewVeronica Finkelstein‘s (Wilmington University School of Law) case file for an employment discrimination claim stemming from a legal associate’s encounter with bias. Or view screenshots from Stephen Horowitz (Georgetown University Law Center) and Daniel Edelson‘s (Seton Hall University School of Law) free online course for teaching legal English to non-native speakers.

Thank you,

The 2024 ALWD Teaching Grants Committee

Aliza Milner (Syracuse University College of Law) & Emily Zimmerman (Drexel University Kline School of Law), co-chairs; Rachel Goldberg (Cornell Law School); Ann Killenbeck (University of Arkansas School of Law); Megan McAlpin (University of Oregon School of Law); Jonathan Moore (University of Akron School of Law); Sarah Ricks (Rutgers Law School-Camden); Catherine Wasson (Elon University School of Law)

Law & Language: Miranda warning or warnings?

Post by Profs. Stephen Horowitz and John Dundon, Georgetown Legal English Lecturers

Despite teaching the same Two-Year LLM program Legal English course the past three years (same content, different sections), my esteemed colleague Prof. John Dundon and I just realized we differ on whether, when focusing on the line of criminal procedure cases and Miranda rights during our Legal English II course, the correct version of the phrase should generally be plural (i.e., Miranda warnings), or whether it is also acceptable for it to be singular (i.e., Miranda warning.)

I won’t say who was advocating for which side, but the argument for exclusively plural was that the Miranda v. Arizona opinion includes multiple items for which a warning must be provided, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The argument against was that the multiple items can be viewed collectively as one warning.

The only civilized way to settle this debate between two lawyer-linguists, of course, was to follow the descriptivist path of looking to the corpora.

Using the entire internet as a corpus (i.e., a Google search of the phrase “a Miranda warning”), it seems to support the use of the singular, as the phrase appears in the Wikipedia entry for Miranda Rights as well as in news articles (e.g., NPR; NYTimes), on legal info sites (e.g., Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute;;, and on law firm sites (e.g., D’Emilia Law – “What is a Miranda Warning.”)

So do those arguing for the exclusive preference for the plural have the right to remain silent? Not without first consulting an attorney. In fact, nine of them.

If the corpus is instead the line of Miranda cases from our course, all of which were decided by the U.S. Supreme Court–the esteemed body that originated Miranda rights and its associated language–then suddenly we see an extremely strong predilection for the view that Miranda is actually comprised of several warnings, which suggests that the plural may in fact be correct. And the singular version is then just a vulgar mutation that has been adopted by the masses. (Or, stated more objectively, a variation that has been adopted in less specialized settings.)

So what’s a lawyer-linguist legal English teacher working with Miranda cases to tell their students? Our takeaway is to just share this blog post with them so they recognize that the appropriate form–single or plural–likely depends on the context and the audience.

If you’re writing a brief for the court or you’re a judge writing an opinion or perhaps a law professor writing a law journal article, then plural seems the preferred option. But if you’re writing a news article or a client email or having a cocktail party conversation, then singular is would seem to be just fine.

If you disagree with us, then you have the right to consult with an attorney-linguist. And if you cannot afford one, then we will be happy to provide you with one of course.