Johnny Depp and bar prep on the USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast


Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Just sharing a few potentially interesting, engaging and short(!) legal English podcast episodes from the USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast, for which I’m a co-host.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp & Amber Heard

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all over the past month, then you’ve probably heard about the celebrity defamation trial between Johnny Depp and his former wife Amber Heard.

The USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast has not been covering every minute of the trial. But it does have two episodes to help foreign-educated attorneys and law students better understand the legal English concepts of “hearsay” and “forum shopping.”

And bar prep

The USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast also recently launched the first episode on a continuing series of short episodes focused on exam-tested topics. And the first episode is on sources of contract law.

So if you want to get a head start on the legal English of bar exam preparation, this episode and future episodes will be helpful and relatively painless ways to improve your legal English vocabulary and fluency that will benefit you down the road.

The USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, Sticher, Himalaya, Overcast, and anywhere else you get your podcasts.

Beyond Non-JD: The Tax LL.M. Path for Foreign-Educated Lawyers

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Another timely post by my friend and former colleague Joshua Alter on his blog Beyond Non-JD, this one titled “The Tax LLM Path for Foreign-Educationed Lawyers” providing advice on those thinking about doing a tax LLM at a US law school rather than a general LLM.

Josh’s advice includes:

–Secure post-LL.B. work experience/education in the field of tax law. This can be working for a law firm, accounting firm, company, government, or a Master’s degree in your home jurisdiction in tax law.

–I’d generally suggest at least 3 years of tax experience in your home jurisdiction if your goal is to work in the U.S. upon graduation.

–Begin building your U.S. tax network in advance of your LL.M. experience.

Click here to read the full post.

Want to hear first-hand from foreign-educated lawyers who have graduated from tax LLM programs at US law schools? Listen to my podcast interviews with foreign-educated Tax LLM grads (below) on the USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast:

National security, homosexuality and legal English?

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

On the New York Time Book Review Podcast this week (after a discussion of The Great Stewardess Rebellion) they discussed a book that caught my attention: Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington by James Kirchick.

[Note: Here’s an excerpt from the book recently published in The Atlantic: “Being Gay Was the Gravest Sin in Washington: In the 1960s, the capital was an alluring but dangerous place for people with a secret.”]

The scope of the book turned out to be a little narrower, though no less intriguing, than the title initially indicated. The “Washington” referred to is not about life in general in the Nation’s Capital, but more specifically focuses on the national security policy-making world centered in Washington.

Either way, this seemed like a terrific pre-LLM read to mention to our incoming LLM students–particularly any incoming international students in Georgetown Law’s highly regarded National Security Law LLM program. A wonderful way to build cultural and background knowledge on the history (and vocabulary) of national security politics and policy in Washington while also accounting for and shedding light on an untold and underrepresented historical voice and perspective.

Here’s the NY Times Book Review podcast episode. The discussion of Secret City starts about halfway through the episode:

And here’s a summary of Secret City from Amazon:

Continue reading “National security, homosexuality and legal English?”

Beyond Non-JD: More advice for applicants to LLM programs

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Josh Alter, Beyond Non-JD blog

My friend and former colleague Joshua Alter recently wrote two new posts on his blog Beyond Non-JD that provide unique insights on selecting an LLM program at a US law school. I always find Josh’s perspectives helpful, and I figure that many readers of this blog may appreciate them as well.

  1. The LL.M. and Working in the U.S.
    • “….three keys for foreign-educated students to think about when choosing the LL.M. instead of the J.D. with the primary goal to work in the United States upon graduation.”
    • “….if the goal is to work in the U.S. after the LL.M., especially on a student visa, it’s really important to plan far ahead and understand the cost-benefit in making either decision.”
  2. Bar Exams & LL.M. Students
    • 6 things to keep in mind about the US bar exam when considering a US LLM program

New Georgetown Online Legal English Course: “OLE: Reading Cases”

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Research Help | Georgetown Law Library | Georgetown Law

I’m very excited to share that Georgetown Law’s Center for Legal English is now offering a second self-paced online legal English course titled Online Legal English (OLE): Reading Cases (beta version) which is currently available to all incoming Georgetown LLM students (1-year LLMs as well as those in the 2-year LLM program.)

I created the course last year as a complement to the first course I developed–OLE: Orientation to the US Legal System. And this spring we began offering both courses at no additional cost to all incoming LLM students so that they can start preparing for the fall semester and gain relevant background knowledge in a way that is as convenient for them as possible.

(Note: I think this makes us the first and only law school to offer entirely asynchronous, self-paced legal English courses. But if anyone knows of any other ones out there, please let me know and I’ll post an update here.)

While OLE: Orientation to the US Legal System focuses on the US legal system, separation of powers, and federalism in a way that enables students to improve their legal English through the study materials and activities, OLE: Reading Cases introduces students to the concept of what a case is (and isn’t) in the US legal system and teaches students how to analyze the language and discourse of cases in order to better comprehend them and better anticipate the questions they will need to address in class and on assignments.

The course is unfortunately not able to be made available to non-Georgetown students for technical reasons beyond our control, but below are a few screenshots to give a sense of what it contains.

[Update: A few people have contacted me to say they’re not a Georgetown student but would love to be able to take a course like this. If you’re not a Georgetown student but are interested in finding other online legal English options, just get in touch with me at sh1643@georgetown.edu and I’m happy to help.]

And I’m always happy to chat and share about the ideas and planning that went into the course if anyone is ever interested in discussing. Just get in touch.

Continue reading “New Georgetown Online Legal English Course: “OLE: Reading Cases””

Book recommendations for foreign-educated Tax LLM students

Georgetown Law Tax Law

Given the increase in foreign-educated attorneys applying for and enrolling in Tax LLM programs in US law schools (including the one at Georgetown Law)–which as I understand it has been further fueled by a strong job market for Tax LLM graduates and the increased likelihood of being able to find a well-paying job that enables you to stay and work int he US–I’ve been thinking about the legal English needs of foreign-educated attorneys planning on starting a Tax LLM program at a US law school.

And one of my first thoughts is the same thing I thought about years ago before I started law school and grad school: What can I read in the months leading up to the start of the program that will help me feel a little better prepared and that I’ll actually enjoy reading?

So here are a couple recommendations. Not tax law books per se, but books that will expose you to the vocabulary and culture of American tax law in an engaging and helpful way. In addition to the legal English benefit of reading either of these books, if you read them you’ll never lack for cocktail conversation topics with American tax LLM students, tax law professors, and tax lawyers.

1. The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—And How Can We Fix It

Are taxes racist? Author Dorothy Brown on how the tax code makes the wealth  gap worse | Salon.com

By Professor Dorothy A. Brown, presently of Emory Law School but who will soon be joining the faculty of Georgetown Law starting fall 2022.

In the words of Carl Davis on the JusTax Blog, Prof. Brown’s book

uses a mix of data, legal scholarship, interviews, and personal stories to tear down the myth that our tax system is neutral with respect to race. Federal tax laws favoring investment income, homeownership, higher education, retirement savings, and marriage systematically advantage white families at the expense of Black families and other people of color. 

2. A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System

A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax  System - Kindle edition by Reid, T. R.. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle  eBooks @ Amazon.com.

By journalist T.R. Reid, author of many similarly intriguing books (including The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care and Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West among others.)

From the description of the book on Reid’s website:

In A Fine Mess — A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax Code, Reid looks at countries like ours –advanced, high-tech capitalist democracies –and finds that they have made taxation vastly simpler than our convoluted, inequitable system. In the Netherlands, filing your income tax return takes 15 minutes; in Britain and Japan, it takes no time, because the revenue agency fills out the return for you. And many countries spread the tax burden more fairly, with the richest people paying the most tax (unlike the U.S.). 

And by the way, if you are a foreign-educated tax LLM student (or aspiring student) have read either of these books, or ever decide to read them, feel free to get in touch. I’d be happy to start an informal Tax LLM legal English book club for discussing them. You can just email me at sh1643@georgetown.edu

First-ever Self-study Online Legal English course

In 2020, in my role as the Director of Online Legal English at Georgetown Law, I helped create a 6-week online legal English course titled “OLE: Orientation to the US Legal System, the first-ever such course to exist (I think.) And in Fall 2020 I had the opportunity to teach two 6-week sessions of the course to approximately 40 incoming LLM students who had deferred for a semester (because covid.)

Now I’m excited because the course–which I designed to be usable both with an instructor but also without an instructor–is being offered for free to incoming Georgetown Law LLM students scheduled to begin their studies in the Fall 2022 semester.

Online Legal English: Orientation to the US Legal System – Self-Study (2022-23).

All incoming Georgetown Law Fall 2022 LLM  students can enroll and start the course whenever they’re ready–and at their own convenience and on their own schedule–by clicking the above link.

Note: Currently the course is only available to students registered at Georgetown Law because it was created in Canvas (the learning management system that Georgetown uses), and Georgetown University’s Canvas system is only accessible by those with a registered Georgetown account.

If you’re an incoming student and have any questions, feel free to email me (Professor Stephen Horowitz) at sh1643@georgetown.edu.

And if you’re a legal English teacher or work with LLM students and you have any questions, also feel free to get in touch. I always enjoy chatting about legal English and online curriculum development and sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

The course home page
An overview of the course modules
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