Updates from the Georgetown Legal English Faculty (May 2024)

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Here’s what the Georgetown Legal English faculty have been up to during the course of the spring 2024 semester….

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Craig Hoffman

Prof. Craig Hoffman with Dean William Treanor

We were both extremely proud and at the same time verklempt while attending the retirement ceremony for Prof. Craig Hoffman, one of the original pioneers of legal English, the founder of the Georgetown Two-Year LLM Program, the progenitor of the Legal English faculty, a beloved teacher (or “rock star” as Dean William Treanor put it) to hundreds of Georgetown LLM students, and an inspiration and mentor to so many of us who have been fortunate to have had the privilege of working with him. We will miss him dearly but look forward to building on his legacy and continuing to collaborate with him and seek his insights (whether he wants us to or not. :-))

Ben Cheng

Prof. Cheng was on leave this semester while he and his wife were blessed with the birth of their second child, Matteo. We and our students all look forward to working with Prof. Cheng again in the fall (and also look forward to Matteo’s first visit to campus!)

Heather Weger & Julie Lake

We have had another successful academic year! We would like to use this opportunity to give some “shout outs” (i.e., recognize the colleagues and students who made this year possible) and update you on our work. 

Shout Outs

Most notably, we want to express deep gratitude to Craig Hoffman, whose innovative mind has created a supportive space that recognizes and empowers the voice of Multilingual Lawyers from around the world. Being part of his Legal English vision has enriched our understanding of what student-centered learning means and given us a platform to build meaningful programming. 

To honor his legacy, we warmly congratulate our multilingual students in the Two-Year LLM Program. First, to our graduating cohort! Keep us informed of your ongoing adventures. Second, we recognize the hard work of those who have just completed their first year! It has been an honor to be a part of your journey to practice law in a multilingual world. See you next year. 

Finally, we want to thank our colleagues, past and present, for continuously innovating and pushing the boundaries on legal education practices: Profs. Benjamin Cheng, John Dundon, Stephen Horowitz, Mari Sakai, and Michelle Ueland

Our Ongoing Work

Our professional journey during the last several months has had plenty of amazing highs, starting with the lawyer-linguist partnerships and classroom spaces that we shared with the multilingual lawyers in the Two-Year LLM Program. These months have also been filled with milestones to propel us forward: including providing a Legal English curriculum to a brilliant team from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, forming a working group with Ukrainian linguists teaching in the law context, receiving both the Jim Weaver and ALWD grants that will help us continue to innovate our Legal English pedagogy, and introducing our asset-based Legal English approach at TESOL 2024 International Convention

[Editor’s note: See the Georgetown Law Magazine Spring 2024 issue’s cover article “Justice for Ukraine: Georgetown Law Partners with Ukrainian Prosecutors” for more info about the initiative in which Profs. Lake and Weger provided their legal English expertise.]

Prof. Julie Lake (4th from left) and Prof. Heather Weger (2nd from right) led the Georgetown Legal English team that hosted staff from the Office of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General for a five-week intensive language program.

As we turn to summer 2024, we look forward to continuing partnerships with Ukrainian colleagues in our Legal English Pedagogy initiative, upcoming writing partnerships with colleagues at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (KMA), and presenting our asset-based approach to legal writing at the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) Biennial Conference in July 2024. Here’s to a busy summer 2024!

John Dundon

This summer, Professor Dundon is returning to IE Law School in Madrid, Spain, where he will teach a class on contract drafting to students in IE Law’s LL.M. program. He’ll also teach a similar class on the same subject matter this summer in Taipei, Taiwan, with one section taught to law students at National Chengchi University and another taught to practicing lawyers organized through the Taipei Bar Association.

Professor Dundon will present his research at two linguistics conferences, both in the United Kingdom. His first presentation, at the i-Mean 7 Conference on Meaning in Social Interaction in Bristol, UK, will concern the procedural and evidentiary rules in the U.S. legal system that result in interactional asymmetries in trials. His second presentation will be at the 5th European Conference of the International Association for Forensic & Legal Linguistics in Birmingham, UK, and he will summarize his recent research on production format in U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments.

Finally, Professor Dundon will teach U.S. Legal Research, Analysis & Writing during Georgetown Law’s Summer Experience program for newly-matriculated LL.M. students.

Stephen Horowitz

Ukraine

*Organized a second round of Legal English training sessions which included 1) a series of Pronunciation/Speaking Presentations sessions led by Legal English Specialist Linda Pope; 2) a session titled “The Flipped Classroom: A Student-centered Approach for Instruction” led by Prof. Susan Dudley of the University of Richmond Law School; 3) a session titled “Case Analysis & Written and Oral Advocacy” led by Joel B. Kohm, a retired Canadian barrister and solicitor and founder of Kohm Arbitration & Mediation Inc.; and 4) A session titled “Resolving legal disputes without going to trial: ADR, negotiation and mediation” led by Prof. Barrie Roberts, author of The Getting to Yes Guide for ESL Students and Professionals.

*Helped launch a new training focused on the teaching of Legal Research & Writing and recruited a team of US and Canadian legal research and writing experts to participate. (In collaboration with Artem Shaipov of the USAID-funded Justice For All (Ukraine) program.)

*Helped arrange for Prof. Nadiia Maksimentseva, who specializes in constitutional and election law, to give a presentation sponsored by Georgetown Law’s American Constitution Society titled “Derogation of Human Rights and Freedoms During Martial Law in Ukraine.” (Special shout out to my TA Conor Bigley, an ACS officer this past year, for all his help in making this happen.)

*Continued the weekly Legal English Conversation sessions which matched 20+ Ukrainian law and legal English faculty with 20+ US/EU law and legal English faculty. In addition to legal English practice, the weekly Zoom sessions have evolved into a place to share ideas and understanding feel connected as a community. Legal English Conversation for Ukrainian Faculty is taking a break for the summer but will continue in the fall. (If interested in getting involved in any way, feel free to email me at stephen.horowitz@georgetown.edu.)

Refugee Afghanistan Judges

*Continued conducting assessments for refugee 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).

*Continued offering a self-guided online pre-LLM legal English program (i.e., Fundamentals of the US Legal System; Reading Cases; Legal Writing; etc.) on the USLawEssentials platform to help prepare Afghan candidates getting ready to start an LLM program at a US law school.

Bar Exam Support for LLM Students

*Will again co-teach a 4-week bar essay skills course (for MEE and MPT) this summer with USLawEssentials using a “pay what you can” model to make legal English support accessible to all LLM students who need it.

Conference Presentations

*(04.26.24) International Education Abroad and Administrators of LLM Programs (ILEAC) Conference:   “Legal English Assessment & Refugee Afghan Judges and Lawyers: A Case Study” on a panel with Dr. Lindsey Kurtz (PhD Applied Linguistics, Director of Legal English Certificate Program and Legal English Specialist at Penn State Law); Prof. Daniel Edelson (Director of Academic Success at Seton Hall Law and Founder of USLawEssentials LLC); and Dana Katz (Vice Chair, Afghan Legal Professionals Resettlement Task Force, American Bar Association (ABA) International Law Section (ILS)).

*(06.06.24) 16th Global Legal Skills Conference in Bari, Italy: “Making Legal English Accessible: Ukraine, Afghanistan & the US Bar Exam”

Miscellaneous

*Attended the ABA International Section Conference in Washington, DC on May 10 to see Dana Katz, Daniel Edelson and others on a panel presentation titled “Lean on Me: Guiding Legal educational and Career Pathways for Afghan Lawyers and Judges Starting Over in the United States.” After the presentation, I was honored to get to meet in person several of the Afghan judges whom I’d met via Zoom to conduct legal English assessments with and also several of the U.S. legal professionals who have been serving as mentors to the Afghan judges and lawyers.

*Completed three legal English text book reviews for academic publishers and also wrote a blurb for the back cover of The Getting to Yes Guide for ESL Students and Professionals: Principled Negotiation for Non-Native Speakers of English by Barrie J. Roberts.

*For a third year in a row hosted the Two-Year LLM students (along with Legal English faculty and members of the Office of Graduate and International Programs) for an end-of-semester, good ol’ American-style cookout + potluck that included cornhole, soccer, and s’mores! Looking forward to continuing this fun and wonderful tradition for many years to come.

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. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijld-2024-2007  
  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.23788

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.

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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.

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.

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