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:

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“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.)

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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)

Legal English for Ukraine’s War Crimes Prosecutors

Post by Heather Weger and Julie Lake

Today, the second anniversary of the ground and air campaign on Kyiv in the early hours of February 24, 2022, we stop to reflect on Ukraine’s ongoing innovation during a full-scale Russian invasion. We, members from the Legal English team – Julie Lake, Michelle Ueland, and Heather Weger – were honored to contribute to this endeavor through our tailored, intensive 5-week program focusing on language skills for a team from the Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) in Ukraine in November and December of 2023.

The Participants

The participants from the OPG team included Viktoriia Litvinova (the Deputy Prosecutor General), Oleksii Boniuk (Head of the Criminal Policy and Investment Protection Department), Veronika Plotnikova (Head of the Coordinating Center for the Support of Victims and Witnesses), Siuzanna Savchuk (Head of the Communications Department), and Yuliia Usenko (Head of the Department for the Protection of Children’s Interests and Combating Domestic Violence).

Our program empowered these incredible OPG representatives to meet the linguistic demands of their varied responsibilities. According to Veronika Plotnikova, the program and teachers enabled her team to meet their goal of “acquiring language skills necessary to communicate to the world about all the damage of the unprovoked and brutal aggression unleashed by the Russian regime.” 

The Program

Our participant-centered pedagogical approach was genre-based – built around texts and speech acts needed for the OPG participants’ interactions. Examples of pedagogical methods that we used included:

  • Brainstorming and practicing answering common questions to identify critical gaps in legal and academic vocabulary, 
  • Developing a series of interactive activities to help the team facilitate conversations with legal experts, 
  • Creating talking points that followed the expected organizational strategies in legal English (i.e., begin with the main point and then offer details and support),
  • Drafting CVs and bios that employed expected rhetorical strategies for meetings with US governmental counterparts,
  • Reviewing pronunciation and grammar guidelines based on student needs, and
  • Providing intensive personalized feedback for language development.

These pedagogical approaches allowed for participants to enrich their Legal English skills within our brief – but intensive – five weeks with them.

Learning was not confined to the classroom walls. Our OPG team was ushered into numerous law-focused and historical experiential opportunities. During these opportunities, they engaged in real-world language practice, including following the McElrath v. Georgia case from Georgetown Law’s moot court to the Supreme Court, attending the Atlantic Council’s EU-US Defense and Future Forum, a visit to the Library of Congress, a tour of the US Capitol, and a visit to Lincoln’s Cottage. In addition, the participants completed ACTFL’s oral proficiency interview.

The Partnerships

This specialized Legal English program was possible due to a deep collaboration with members of the Georgetown Law community. This collaboration allowed the OPG team to not only strategize how to combat the harm from Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine’s people and environment but also to innovate their legal system. Partners included members of Georgetown’s Center on National Security (CNS) with funding through the Office of Global Criminal Justice (GJC) via the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA) for Ukraine. 

We want to share special appreciation for the dedication, creativity, and professionalism of CNS Co-Director Professor Mitt Regan and Executive Director  Anna Cave; ACA Law Fellow Gus Hargrave; and the CNS logistical support team, Ann McKinnon and Angelika Osiniak. Together, these partners provided opportunities for the OPG team to meet with experts and governmental officials, and they supported the logistical aspects of their stay in Washington, D.C. 

Razom (Together, We are Ukraine)

It was an honor to work with this dedicated group of professionals from the OPG team, and we look forward to future collaborations!

Want to learn more about Ukraine? Check out these selected resources:

Websites

Press Releases

Humanitarian Feature Stories 

  • “Ukrainians Accuse Russia of Kidnapping, Indoctrinating Ukrainian Children”: Link to transcript (here); Link to video (here)
  • “Ukrainian Widows, Children Work to Overcome Grief, Trauma at Climbing Camp in the Austrian Alps”: Link to a transcript with video (here); Link to related article (here)
  • Contemporary Ukrainian authors recommended by Veronika Plotnikova
  • “Ukrainian Literature in Times of War: A Conversation with Oksana Zabuzhko” (here)

Articles

Legal English faculty win TESOL scholarship

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

We’re very proud to share that Georgetown Legal English faculty members Profs. Heather Weger and Julie Lake for winning Washington Area TESOL‘s Jim Weaver Scholarship for Professional Development.

Profs. Weger and Lake, who both teach in Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM Program, plan to use the funds for the purchase of research materials related to legal writing for multilingual students. Weger explained, “We are on a mission to use linguists to bridge the gap between legal content and multilingual legal experts.”

The Brief: “Bridging Language and Law at Georgetown”

A nice article via The Brief, Georgetown Law’s community newsletter, titled “Bridging Language and Law at Georgetown” in the January 18, 2024 issue that highlights the work of Professor Stephen Horowitz, the 2-Year LLM Program, and the Legal English faculty.

Click here to read the full article

Updates from the Georgetown Legal English Faculty (December 2023)

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

Here’s what the Georgetown Legal English faculty have been up to over the fall 2023 semester….

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Heather Weger & Julie Lake & Michelle Ueland

Legal English team members Professors Julie Lake, Heather Weger, and Michelle Ueland designed and delivered an intensive 5-week Legal English program for the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine from November 13-December 15, 2023. They collaborated with Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security (with Professor Mitt Regan and Anna Cave) and the Atrocity Crime Advisory Group (ACA).

It was an honor to work with such dedicated colleagues and students. We look forward to future collaborations of this kind. Stay tuned for a more detailed blog post in January!

John Dundon

Professor John Dundon in Bonn, Germany

This September, Professor Dundon was invited to participate as a panel discussant at a linguistics conference at the University of Bonn, Germany. The title of the conference was “Language as a Social Practice: Constructing (a)symmetries in legal discourse,” and Professor Dundon spoke on a panel (together with professors from Germany and Finland) about how asymmetries in legal discourse can lead to societal injustice.

He thoroughly enjoyed attending the conference and considers himself very fortunate to have been invited to meet with so many leaders in the field of language and law. The conference proceedings will be published (together with a contribution from Professor Dundon) in an upcoming volume with Cambridge University Press.

In other news, Professor Dundon is finishing up his final year of coursework towards his doctorate in sociolinguistics. This semester, he is researching interactional features of Supreme Court oral arguments, and specifically the “production format” of utterances made by attorneys as they negotiate having to speak on behalf of themselves, their client, and their legal team. Professor Dundon is also conducting a survey of ideologies about language use and language learning on the public-facing websites of local bilingual schools in the District of Columbia.

Stephen Horowitz

Ukraine

*Collaborated with Artem Shaipov of USAID’s Justice For All program and several other legal English professors (Alissa Hartig, Susan Dudley, Catherine Beck, Oksana Kiriiak, and Linda Pope) to provide multiple legal English trainings for Ukrainian law faculty and legal English faculty over the course of the Fall 2023 semester.

*Led one of the trainings–9 sessions of Legal English Conversation–and recruited a cohort of 15 additional law/legal English volunteers (including colleague John Dundon) to engage with Ukrainian faculty in each Legal English Conversation session.

*Currently in the process of setting up additional trainings during Spring 2024. And planning a new round of matching Ukrainian law schools with any international law school/legal English faculty interested in teaching a course, guest lecturing, providing support for academic publishing, or helping in other ways. (Email Stephen.Horowitz@georgetown.edu if interested in volunteering in some capacity.)

*Recruited Georgetown Law JD students to participate in a six-week peer-to-peer legal writing project with students from Kyiv Molhya Academy University during the fall semester that involved JD students from several other US law schools as well. Currently recruiting more Georgetown Law students for the next session to start late January.

*In collaboration with law professor Alan Blakely, helped set up the Ukraine-related Resources Page.

*Reached a 500-day Duolingo streak for Ukrainian language study!

Afghanistan

*Continued conducting assessments for Afghan judges and lawyers in connection with the ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program. The assessment project is in collaboration with Prof. Daniel Edelson (Seton Hall/USLawEssentials.com) and Prof. Lindsey Kurtz (Penn State Law).

*Created, with Daniel Edelson, a self-guided online pre-LLM legal English program (i.e., Fundamentals of the US Legal System; Reading Cases; Legal Writing) to help prepare Afghan candidates getting ready to start an LLM program at a US law school.

*Currently working with ABA program leaders to recruit additional mentors–both law faculty and law students–to provide legal English and other support for the candidates. (Email Stephen.Horowitz@georgetown.edu if interested in volunteering.)

Japan

*Guest-lectured in three classes for the legal English course at Keio University Law School on the topics of Case Reading Strategies and the Language of Analogy.

USA

*Teaching a December/January “Bar Essay Writing Skills for LLM Students” online course for USLawEssentials together with Prof. Daniel Edelson. The course is designed to be accessible to all students who need it regardless of finances, and provides specialized bar essay writing support geared to non-native English speakers.

*Was the subject of interviews by Wordrake (on Legal English and Plain English) and Amicus Partners (on my career path to becoming a legal English professor.)

*Provided a book cover blurb for The “Getting to Yes” Guide for ESL Students and Professionals: Principled Negotiation for Non-Native Speakers of English by Barrie J. Roberts at the request of University of Michigan Press.

*Received a wonderful email from a former student, reprinted with her permission:

“I found out I passed the New York bar yesterday! I wanted to thank you specifically because both torts and criminal law came up on the exam. The torts essay was asking for all elements of negligence so that was our entire final exam for Legal English 1. The criminal law essay had 4 sub issues and they were all about Miranda rights, custodial interrogation and whether the defendant waived it knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently. Thank you again for the classes. I remember writing everything I learned from classes instead of from the bar prep materials for those two essays. I’m really grateful for that!”Sokunthyda Long (Cambodia), graduate of the 2-Year LLM Program at Georgetown Law

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Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and peace-filled holidays and New Year!

Wordrake Plain Language Series: An Interview with Prof. Stephen Horowitz

In connection with International Plain Language Day (which is a real thing), Wordrake recently published an interview with Georgetown Legal English Prof. Stephen Horowitz, who teaches in Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM Program, in which they asked him questions such as:

  • “What prompted you to combine Law and English as a Second Language?”
  • “What connections do you see between writing for lawyers, linguistics, English as a Second Language, and the plain language movement? How do you see these fields working together to promote clarity and equity?”
  • “How can other lawyers help clients who speak English as a second language? What should lawyers know about ESL processing that would help them better serve clients?”
  • “How can professors help students who speak English as a second language?”

Below are some quotes from the interview:

  • “In Japan I encountered so many situations and behaviors that felt uncomfortable and at times even irrational. I learned to stop myself and consider the possibility that it actually was rational if you’re working from a different set of assumptions. And I learned to question and evaluate my own assumptions about how things should work before I fell back on a judgmental view or comment. It’s led me to a passionate curiosity for trying to understand why people do things they do.”
  • “The plain English movement is a reaction to a sense that the writing of lawyers and judges had become unnecessarily complicated and was acting as a barrier to access to justice. Although not stated explicitly, the plain English movement seems to me to assume native English speakers as its primary users and consumers. Legal English, on the other hand, is a catch-all term relating to the approach and curriculum for helping lawyers and law students from other language backgrounds study or work with US (or UK, Canadian, Australian, etc.) law or contracts in English.”
  • “The primary overlap [between Plain English and Legal English] is probably with regard to input. In the case of plain English, if you simplify language and use fewer words, then there is less information to process, both in volume and complexity. That should work to the benefit of non-native English speakers. In other words, using plain English makes a text closer to the idea of “comprehensible input.” Of course, it’s also possible that even a text that meets plain English standards could still be challenging for a non-native English speaker to understand for a variety of reasons, including vocabulary, grammar, and cultural knowledge gaps. And of course among non-native English speakers, there will also always be a wide range of facility with English.”
  • “However, it seems to me that plain English and legal English begin to diverge regarding output. This is because plain English can often be conveyed as a series of prescriptivist rules and principles for how to use and not use language. Whereas in legal English, the priority is generally learning to communicate one’s ideas accurately, with style a little lower down the priority list depending on the student. From a legal English teaching perspective, we want the students to learn to feel confident in expressing their ideas.”

Below is a link to the full interview.

Wordrake Plain Language Series: An Interview with Professor Stephen Horowitz

Georgetown Law on AI in the TESOL Applied Linguistics Newsletter (Sept 2023 issue)

The September 2023 issue of AL Forum (the applied linguistics newsletter for TESOL) is out, thanks in part to contributions from several members of the Georgetown Law faculty. And the theme is language, teaching, and generative AI.

Co-edited by Georgetown Legal English Professor Heather Weger  and George Washington Teaching Associate Professor Natalia Dolgova, it leads with a letter from the editors and includes two articles by Georgetown Law colleagues.

AL Forum: The Newsletter of the Applied Linguists Interest Section

1. Letter from the Editors, by Prof. Natalia Dolgova and Prof. Heather Weger

“In this issue, you will find leadership updates summarizing past and future ALIS activities, and this issue provides a closer look at how educators are grappling with the impact of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as ChatGPT, on our field.”

2. Generation GPT: Nurturing Responsible AI Usage in College Curricula, by D. Ellery Boatwright, Instructional Technologist

“This article offers some resources and advice to consider as you make informed decisions about integrating AI into your workflows and prepare students to inhabit an AI-rich world.”

3. ChatGPT Experiment: Creating an Online Vocabulary Course for Legal English, by Prof. Stephen Horowitz

“A detailed case study of his experimental use of ChatGPT to design teaching materials for a vocabulary course, [including] examples of how to prompt ChatGPT to generate materials (e.g., quizzes and practice activities.)”

For more articles and issues of the AL Forum, click here.

Updates from the Georgetown Legal English Faculty (September 2023)

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

Here’s what the Georgetown Legal English faculty have been up to over the summer….

Craig Hoffman 

Professor Hoffman gave a talk at the U.S. Supreme Court in early August.  He was invited by the Association of the Reporters of Judicial Decisions, whose annual meeting was held at the Supreme Court.  He was asked to speak about Language and Law and specifically about his paper,  Parse the Sentence First: Curbing the Urge to Resort to the Dictionary When Interpreting Legal Texts.   (Additionally, he also managed to get the New York Reporter of Decisions to send him an opinion from a New York trial court that the Georgetown Law librarians had been seeking!)   

Heather Weger

Prof. Weger with Georgetown Law alumni in front of Deoksugung Palace

Summer 2023 was packed with legal English endeavors! A highlight was meeting up with LL.M. and J.D. alumni during a visit to South Korea, generously hosted by Law Center alumnus, Chairman Seung-Hoon Lee .

The opportunity to connect with our multilingual community in a global setting affirms the legacy of the Georgetown experience. I was delighted to share insights about our Two-Year LL.M. program with these colleagues and welcome two of our incoming students.

Back in the U.S., I’ve been excitedly working on the release of the next issue of AL Forum, the Applied Linguistic Newsletter for TESOL, a publication I co-edit with Dr. Natalia Dolgova. This issue will explore the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI), such as the emergent use of ChatGPT, on educational practices; it includes articles from Georgetown colleagues Professor Stephen Horowitz and Technology Specialist Ellery Boatright.

Research also found a way into the summer! Professor Julie Lake and I are collaborating on upcoming conference presentations and publications that focus on integrating asset-based pedagogical practices into Legal English education. As this busy summer wraps up, I look forward to an even busier school year!

Julie Lake 

Professor Lake had a wonderful summer traveling around the U.S. with her husband and daughter. She spent a week at Cape May, NJ at the beach, a week in Chapel Hill, NC, and a week in Philadelphia, PA.

During her summer she made progress on her personal “language-based” summer project to learn Spanish. Language learning is a lifetime journey!

Professor Lake also spent time working with Professor Weger to revise the language-focused curriculum for Fundamentals of Legal Writing for the 2023-2024 academic year. In Fall 2023, incoming Two-Year students will learn how to use language-based strategies to craft a high-quality memo (i.e., a lawyer-to-lawyer document). In Spring 2024, incoming Two-Year students will learn about the scholarly writing genre and how to write a high-quality mini-scholarly legal research paper.

And finally, Professor Lake enjoyed researching productive ways to use ChatGPT as a learning tool for law and linguistic students.

John Dundon

Professor Dundon began his summer by presenting at the Sixth International Language & Law Conference at the University of Bialystok Faculty of Law in Bialystok, Poland in June (see prior post).

He then taught a summer class, Introduction to U.S. Contract Drafting and Interpretation at IE University Law School in Madrid, Spain, where he has taught for the past three summers.

In July, Professor Dundon presented a paper, When multilingual litigants encounter monolingual ideologies in U.S. judicial opinions, at the Twelfth Bonn Applied Linguistics Conference in Bonn, Germany; he’s been invited back to Bonn to appear as a discussant in a conference focused on legal discourse, taking place in September (more on that in a future post).

He also traveled in Morocco, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with family, before returning to Georgetown to teach U.S. Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing as part of the LL.M. Summer Experience program.

Professor Dundon ended the summer with a presentation at Georgetown Law’s faculty summer research workshop, where he spoke about his paper “A shifting precipice of unsettled law?”: A survey of how U.S. courts treat expert testimony using forensic stylistics, which was published this month in the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law.

Yi Song

Prof. Yi Song takes a selfie with Prof. Michael Cedrone and their Georgetown Summer Experience “Foundations for American Law” class.

1. Summer Teaching

Professor Yi Song taught two courses during the Summer Experience – “Foundations for American Law” (co-teaching with Professor Michael Cedrone) and her summer stable, “U.S. Legal Research, Analysis and Writing.”

She’s especially proud of being responsible for the idea of the group assignment for the Foundations class.

  • In July 2023, 102 international lawyers from around the world walked into McDonough 203 as strangers.
  • They were asked to form 10 groups to present before class “What I have learned from the Foundations so far.”
  • In the subsequent 10 days, we saw history reenacted as Marbury v. Madison came alive.
  • Like most historic events, it all began with a fateful night at the bar. 
  • The foundations of the American legal system were reimagined in the multiverse with the prompt “what if the Founding Fathers were_____?”
  • An uncanny Professor Cedrone Impersonator? A jury trial, where a top international model found herself in the midst of legal dramas? A tort case that occurred on the premises of Georgetown Law, inspired by the Office-style-behind-the-scene footage?
  • When Dean Treanor came in one morning for a surprise visit, Prof. Song regretted that she forgot to take a group class selfie with him. But the one she got with Professor Cedrone still came out pretty good.

2. Professor Song’s Master of Laws Interviews Project

Master of Laws Interviews Project has come to the classroom this summer. Season 2 is being recorded now. Stay tuned for the Fascinating journeys such as how a lawyer got hired and became the first shareholder with international background in a firm’s 137 year history; How a former star student from legal research and writing class successfully turned her externship into the international associate position at BigLaw. And more!

Michelle Ueland

Prof. Michelle Ueland (standing, far left) with fellow presenters and faculty at Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica.

I was an invited keynote speaker for this conference in Costa Rica (at a branch campus of my MA alma mater, la Universidad Nacional) on August 17 & 18. I gave two presentations (#1 and #2 below) and the closing plenary (#3).

1. “Advancing Listening and Speaking Skills in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Classrooms”

2. “In Your Voice and In Your Shoes: Experiencing Sanaz Toossi’s Pulitzer-prize-winning play “English”

3. “What’s all the chatter about? Writing educators’ pedagogical responses to generative artificial intelligence (AI) products like ChatGPT-3.5”

Mari Sakai

I presented at the Global Legal Skills Conference at Nottingham Law School at Nottingham Trent University, England (July 30-Aug 1, 2023). My presentation was titled “Addressing international law students’ pronunciation needs: Best-practices informed by linguistics research and pedagogy.”

Abstract

  • Although professors notice issues in their international students’ speech, they may not feel equipped to address them. This presentation will cover four research-based, best practices for teaching second language (L2) pronunciation: orienting towards intelligibility, creating task-based lessons, increasing talk-time, and giving feedback. 
  • Many L2 speakers express a desire to “eliminate their accents”, however, accents carry valuable information of our diverse identities and experiences. Teachers can instead help students reorient towards the crucial feature of communication called intelligibility, which asks if the listener received the message the speaker intended to convey. Oral skills can then be addressed through task-based teaching, which focuses on tasks students face (e.g., oral case briefs, negotiations) and guides them through the language necessary to complete them. Third, increasing the amount of productive (versus receptive) interactions in the target language will help students to see progress more rapidly. One suggestion is assigning a video reflection after observing courtroom proceedings. Finally, explicit pronunciation feedback can be a salient tool for progress. Feedback can focus on unintelligible speech, articulation of a sound, and spoken grammar.
  • These four approaches can be applied in any classroom around the world. Digital access to all teaching materials will be provided.
Shuguftah Quddoos, the first Asian woman to serve as the Sheriff of Nottingham

Also,….

  • A fun tidbit about the city was that it is the birth place of the Robin Hood lore, and there is actually a real Sheriff of Nottingham position (from what I learned, it’s apparently similar to Mayor).
  • The current Sheriff is the first Asian woman to hold the position, and we learned from her that all the city buses and trams are electric vehicles too.
  • GLS was a great small conference, and next year it will be in Bari, Italy!

 

Stephen Horowitz

Georgetown Legal English professors John Dundon and Stephen Horowitz together with National Chengchi University law professor Anna Yan

*Collaborated with a USAID Ukrainian representative to establish online legal English training programs for Ukrainian law faculty starting in Fall 2023. The effort has involved identifying interested US legal English instructors and matching their areas of expertise with the interests of Ukrainian law faculty.

*Set up assessments (pro bono) for female judges from Afghanistan preparing to enter LLM programs at US law schools. The project, which involved collaboration with Prof. Daniel Edelson (Seton Hall/USLawEssentials.com) and Prof. Lindsey Kurtz (Penn State Law), was at the request of an ABA initiative working to mentor and support female Afghan judges.

*Taught a 4-week online Bar Exam Essay Writing for LLM Students course during May/June, in collaboration with Prof. Daniel Edelson. The mission (and experiment) was to make the course accessible to any LLM or non-native English speaking law student, regardless of ability to pay, and it worked well. A second section of the course had to be created to accommodate excessive demand.

*Released a USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast interview with Seongryol Ryan Park, a graduate of Georgetown Law’s National Security Law LLM program, who previously worked for South Korea’s Ministry of Unification and now serves as Assistant Secretary to the President for International Public Relations.

*Set up the Tax Legal English Resources page on the Georgetown Legal English Blog.

*Wrote a soon-to-be published article abou for AL Forum, the Applied Linguistic Newsletter for TESOL, about using ChatGPT to create tax vocabulary practice activities.

*Invited to guest lecture (via Zoom) for a legal English course at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan during the fall 2023 semester.

*Had the opportunity to meet visiting scholar Professor Anna Yan, who teaches law at National Chengchi University in Taiwan and show her the new Legal English faculty offices in McDonough 477.

*Sadly was unable to attend the Global Legal Skills Conference in Nottingham, UK, July 30-Aug 1, which some attendees have shared was really fantastic. But hoping to attend the 2024 GLS Conference in Barri, Italy.

*Fortunate to have had a family vacation in July in a small town (Puerto Morelos) on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, which was a very positive linguistic experience and first time out of the US for my children.

“Approaching Legal English Through Transactional Law” – Prof. Dundon presents at Language & Law Conference in Poland

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

Prof. John Terry Dundon, a member of Georgetown Law’s Legal English Faculty who teaches in the Georgetown Two-Year LLM Program, recently attended the Sixth Biennial Language and Law Conference at the University of Bialystok, Faculty of Law in Bialystok, Poland.  It was his second time at the conference (he last attended in 2019), and he had a great time reconnecting with legal English professionals from all over Europe. 

Prof. Dundon presenting at University of Bialystok

Prof. Dundon gave a presentation titled Approaching Legal English through Transactional Law, which summarized the way that his current class on Contract Drafting at Georgetown Law combines substantive instruction about contract drafting with practice in a number of legal English skills (e.g., adapting language from precedent contracts, explaining contractual changes in ordinary English, and writing professional emails). He walked the audience through his syllabus, course materials, and one of the units from the course.

Questions afterwards related to ways that the course could be adapted to classes in programs that are not overtly US-law focused, as well as different ways to combine expertise from both lawyers and linguists in a single classroom.

Prof. Dundon in Warsaw

Other presentations at the conference related to legal English instruction in a variety of educational and institutional contexts, legal translation, the Plain English movement, and the work of multilingual lawyers in Europe.

Overall it was a fascinating conference, and Prof. Dundon felt very lucky to attend.

Updates from the Georgetown Legal English Faculty (June 2023)

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

Julie Lake 

  • Professor Lake will spend the summer working with Professor Heather Weger to revise the language-focused curriculum for Fundamentals of Legal Writing for the 2023-2024 academic year. In Fall 2023, incoming Two-Year students will learn how to use language-based strategies to craft a high-quality memo (i.e., a lawyer-to-lawyer document). In Spring 2024,incoming Two-Year students will learn about the scholarly writing genre and how to write a high-quality mini-scholarly legal research paper. She will also research productive ways to use ChatGPT as a learning tool for law and linguistic students.
  • When she is not working, she will be traveling, hiking, and camping with her family. Her personal “language-based” summer project is to begin learning how to speak Spanish in preparation for her daughter’s new two-way Spanish-English immersion school.

John Dundon

  • Presented at the Sixth International Language & Law Conference at the University of Bialystok Faculty of Law in Bialystok, Poland in June. Title: “Approaching Legal English through Transactional Law.”
  • Will be teaching “Introduction to U.S. Contract Drafting and Interpretation” at IE University Law School in Madrid, Spain in June and July.
  • Presenting at the Twelfth Bonn Applied Linguistics Conference in Bonn, Germany in July. Title: “When multilingual litigants encounter monolingual ideologies in U.S. judicial opinions.”
  • Teaching “U.S. Legal Research, Analysis & Writing” for Georgetown Law’s Summer Experience program in August.
  • Traveling in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with my family.

Heather Weger

  • Professor Weger is excited to be traveling to South Korea this summer! On July 5, she will speak at an alumni event generously hosted by Mr. Seung-Hoon Lee, Chairman of Lee International IP & Law Group, Board Member of ALAAB, and alumnus of Georgetown Law Center and Seoul National University.
  • Prof. Weger is looking forward to making connections with the international community that Georgetown embraces and providing updates on the Law Center, including a focus on the innovative and impactful Two-Year LL.M. Program.

Paula Klammer

  • Continuing to work on her dissertation titled “The Semantic Rabbit Hole”
  • Preparing to teach “Advanced Scholarly Writing and Oral Communication in the Law” in the fall together with Profs. Julie Lake and Heather Weger.
  • Studying German at the Goethe Institut this summer (and loving it!).
  • Hosting Argentinian Legal Spanish expert Hairenik Aramayo for her US visit in July.
  • And she and her husband Pablo went to the Capital Wheel at National Harbor for Pablo’s birthday, and they received a photo!  

Stephen Horowitz

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