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)

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; usconstitution.net; NOLO.com), 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.

Ukraine/US peer-to-peer law student legal writing project completes second session

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

On Wednesday, March 20, 2024, the closing Zoom call for the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Peer-to-Peer Legal English Writing Project was held, concluding a second 6-week session of this continuing innovative project. (The first ran during the fall 2023 semester.)

The project was initiated in 2023 by National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (KMA) Law Dean Volodymyr Venher working with project Director Taisa Markus, who is an adjunct professor of law for University of Illinois College of Law (which hosts the website for the project) as well as a Visiting Professor at KMA, Project Deputy Director Nataliia Maksymchuk, Senior Lecturer of English at KMA, and Ivan Yatskevych, Professor of Labor Law at KMA who collaborated with Markus to create the legal writing assignments for the participants.

In each session, approximately 20 KMA law students have been paired with tutors who are JD students from a variety of US law schools including University of Illinois, Georgetown, Yale, Columbia, University of Chicago, and Fordham. The KMA students are given a writing assignment created by faculty. (e.g., For the January 2024 session, Markus and and Yatskevych created the assignment along with support from Georgetown Legal Writing Professor Eun Hee Han as well as from Virginia Robinson (University of Chicago Law, ’23) who had served as a tutor in the fall 2023 pilot version of the program.

For the Spring 2024 assignment, KMA students learned they were junior associates at Ukraine’s largest law firm, and their firm’s client–a US cookie company–was planning on purchasing a 10% share of Ukraine’s largest confectionary company. But they need the junior associates to prepare a legal memo for the General Counsel and CFO of the US client analyzing an intellectual property rights dispute potentially affecting the acquisition.

KMA students met with their JD tutors via Zoom approximately 1 to 2 hours each week as they researched the law and wrote their memos in English. And in addition to learning about legal writing, everyone involved also seemed to learn more than they initially expected–about each other’s lives and countries; about each other’s legal systems and legal writing cultures.

I’ve been very fortunate to have a role in helping to identify Georgetown Law students interested in participating. And they shared some wonderful insights upon the completion of this second session:

Kevin Jupena (JD, 2025): “It was a great experience. I found it extremely helpful personally to reexamine my own writing style when making edits. Hopefully I can continue to be a part of this program next time they run it.”

Fankai Meng (LLM, 2024): “This project was very meaningful. I actually had the opportunity to learn more about legal writing myself through this project. I admire how hard the KMA students worked during this difficult time. And my peer mentee also helped me learn a lot about Ukrainian law and how a civil law system deals with this kind of case. I greatly appreciate having had this opportunity.”

Joey Gaston (JD, 2025): “I learned from my peer mentee that long, complex sentences are commonly used in Ukrainian legal memos. At times, a single sentence in a Ukrainian legal memo may make up an entire paragraph. Based on the complexity of the writing my peer mentee submitted, we worked to break down her complex sentence structure into more manageable segments, with a goal of keeping the sentences in the US legal memo three lines or less in length. Overall, the experience was great for me, and I hope it was equally as informative for my peer mentee.”

The KMA Peer-to-Peer Writing Project is one of a number of legal education collaborations happening between Ukrainian law schools, faculty, and students and law schools and legal education professionals in the US and elsewhere around the world.

If you or your institution is interested in getting involved in the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Peer-to-Peer Legal English Writing Project, please feel free to contact Taisa Markus (taisamarkus@icloud.com) and Nataliiya Maksymchuk (n.maksymchuk@ukma.edu.ua).

For more information about the program, check out this post from the KMA Faculty of Law website titled “Innovative English Language Peer to Peer Writing Workshop Pairing US and Kyiv Mohyla Law Students.”

Strengthening Capacity of Ukrainian Law Schools to Teach Legal Research, Analysis, Reasoning, and Writing Skills

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

I was very fortunate yesterday to be involved in kicking off a new collaboration among legal research and writing faculty from Ukraine, the U.S., and Canada. Organized by Artem Shaipov of USAID’s Justice For All project in Ukraine, the collaboration is an outgrowth of continued collaboration initiated in 2022 by members of the Global Legal Skills Institute community together with Shaipov and various Ukrainian law faculty members.

(See the ABA International Law News article ““Global Legal English Skills Community Expands Support for Ukrainian Law Schools” for more information about these efforts.)

The goal of the new initiative is to introduce Ukrainian legal research and writing faculty to the various approaches in the US and Canada to teaching legal research, analysis, reasoning and writing skills in order to lay a foundation for future discussion and exploration of ways to support Ukrainian legal writing faculty as Ukraine’s legal education system shifts to a more western-facing focus and continues to build its rule-of-law culture.

Today’s Zoom session, which is the first in a series of five 2-hour sessions, had over 30 participants from across Ukraine and was facilitated with the help of a simultaneous interpreter. It also included five experts on teaching legal skills from the US and Canada who will be participating in this series.

  • Joel B. Kohm, BSc JD, Mediator & Arbitrator, Member of the bars of British Columbia and Ontario (ret.) who presented today on the topic of “Case Analysis and Written & Oral Advocacy.”
  • Katherine Renee Schimkat, Professor of Legal Writing, Co-Director of the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Concentration, University of Miami School of Law, who will be presenting on the topics of “Understanding Case Law” and “Objective Analysis v. Persuasive Advocacy.”
  • Diane Kraft, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Professor of Practice, Director of Academic Achievement Program, who will be presenting on the topic of “How to Read a Case.”
  • Rachel Wickenheiser, JD, Independent Scholar, Adjunct Faculty at University of Delaware, who will be presenting on the topic of “Legal Writing as a Genre.”
  • Nicole Lefton, Professor of Academic Support and Bar Preparation, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, who will be presenting on the topic of “Legal Analysis Using IRAC.”

For more information about this initiative, please feel free to contact Stephen Horowitz at stephen.horowitz@georgetown.edu.

ABA International Law News: “Global Legal English Skills Community Expands Support for Ukrainian Law Schools”

An article Prof. Stephen Horowitz wrote for the ABA International Law News, Winter 2024 issue titled “Global Legal English Skills Community Expands Support for Ukrainian Law Schools” was just published. It describes the expanding number of legal educators from the US, UK, and elsewhere who have gotten involved in an expanding variety of ways to support Ukrainian legal education.

Here’s a link to the article on the ABA website (membership required to access)

Here’s a link to a PDF of the article (accessible to all)

The purpose of the article is to let members of the US and global legal community know there are real, concrete needs and there are ways to help. If interested in getting involved, feel free to email stephen.horowitz@georgetown.edu.

Sneak preview of “The Getting to Yes Guide for ESL Students and Professionals”

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

The Getting to Yes Guide for ESL Students and Professionals: Principled Negotiation for Non-Native Speakers of English (University of Michigan Press) by Barrie J. Roberts is due out soon.

I had the good fortune to be one of the reviewers for this book, which I think addresses an important need. Barrie recently sent me some sneak-peak photos of the book. And I realized that a blurb I’d written will be on the back cover!

Looking forward to getting a copy when it’s out and hopefully seeing it used in a future negotiation course for our LLM students.

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

“Do you have any resources you recommend for international students trying to get their bearings in constitutional law?”

This great question was recently emailed by Prof. Eileen Pizzurro, Director of Academic Success & Bar Studies at Rutgers Law School to me and to Prof. Daniel Edelson (founder of USLawEssentials and Director of Academic Success at Seton Hall Law School.)

It gets at the challenge many law schools face in supporting international students–particularly those in JD programs as opposed to LLM programs–since those in JD programs need to take Constitutional Law with all the American JD students. And of all the 1L courses, Constitutional Law in the US has a particularly high degree of the kind of background and cultural knowledge that you absorb by growing up and going to school in the US.

And it’s frequently academic support faculty, legal writing faculty, and occasionally legal English faculty who find themselves needing to provide self-guided resources (because who has the time to teach a 1-on-1 Constitutional Law seminar?) to students thrown into the water and trying to learn to swim.

“Do you have any resources you recommend for international students trying to get their bearings in constitutional law?”

After hitting send on my email reply, I realized this should be a blog post so that other instructors out there have something they can easily refer students to when asked this question.

Below is my response. Though I’m happy to add more if others have suggestions:

1. USLawEssentials videos on the Constitution and Fundamentals of the US Legal System

Easily accessible (for free) on YouTube and created by Prof. Daniel Edelson (Director of Academic Success at Seton Hall Law and the founder of USLawEssentials), these often animated videos may be the quickest and easiest way for non-native English speaking lawyers/law students to start getting their head around the US Constitution and related topics in the US legal system.

In particular, there are playlists (i.e., multiple videos on a related topic) relate to Constitutional law on topics such as Constitution: The Federal Government and Important Freedoms (30 videos) and The Constitution: Tests for Constitutionality (18 videos). There are plenty of other helpful explainer videos Daniel has created that might be helpful. But those two playlists are good place to start and will give a learner plenty to do. Notably, Daniel has a great knack for communicating in a way that is intended specifically and very accessible for non-native English speakers.

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2. USLawEssentials self-guided online pre-LLM course

Daniel Edelson and I have created an online self-guided pre-LLM course program based on curriculum we’ve developed and taught in the past. It’s currently being provided on a pro bono basis to Afghan judges and lawyers in connection with the ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program. Certain course modules focus on the Constitution and fundamentals of the US legal system. (Others focus on Case Reading & Analysis; Fundamentals of Legal Writing; the US Civil Litigation System; and a Law & Language podcast-based study module.) The course has not yet been made generally available. But if anyone has interest–either as an individual or an organization–you can contact Daniel Edleson at daniel@uslawessentials.com.

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3. Georgetown Legal English Blog

The Legal English Resources page lists various books and podcasts, among other items, that may be helpful to learning about US Constitutional Law and related topics.

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4. Civics101 Podcast

An extensive series of podcast episodes, created by New Hampshire Public Radio, which are great explainers on a wide range of relevant topics.

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5. iCivics.org

An online gamified way to let US school students teach themselves about US government and constitution. Many (most?) schools in the US are using this to teach civics to their students. (My 10 year old daughter has been using it a lot lately.)

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6. Khan Academy

Khan Academy has a large library of lessons that might be helpful. I once went through all the offerings that seemed possibly relevant (there’s a lot!) and pulled out ones that might be helpful for my students. Then I organized them into a “course” on the Khan Academy website and titled the course “OLE: US Legal System-Core Concepts & Vocabulary (supp). A fair amount of the lessons I think were intended for AP History/Government students in US high schools. I haven’t used it in a while, but it still exists. So if you don’t feel like looking for all the lessons yourself, feel free to just join my course. Here’s the link for the OLE: US Legal System-Core Concepts & Vocabulary “course.”. And the join code for my “class” is VQ6XUCKW if you need it. 

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7. Street Law: Understanding Law and Legal Issues, Student Edition (Civics & Government) 

Intended for high school students as a practical guide to US law, government, and civics. But great for non-native English speaking lawyers and law students because it is rich in law-related vocabulary and US legal system concepts, it’s easier to read than a law school textbook, and it has a great glossary in the back of the book.

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8. US Government Resources

Recommended by Prof. Susan Landrum, Dean of Students and Assistant Dean of Academic Administration, University of Illinois College of Law

These are some additional resources on U.S. government resources that my students have found helpful in the past:

9. Netflix series: “We the People”

Recommended by Prof. Bythia Louzoun, a legal English lecturer at the Academic College of Natanya in Israel where she teaches classes with Muslim, Jewish, and Druze students together in the same class. In addition to English language, Prof. Louzoun also teaches Hebrew and French.

Additional suggestions from Prof. Louzoun include:

The Judicial Learning Center – Great activities, short quizzes, and simple explanations.

ProCon.org – A great website for debates!

Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers: The Informer – My students love the Informer from FLETC. And their FLETC Office of the Chief Counsel podcast on Spotify (and YouTube series “FLETC Talks“) is very helpful in explaining criminal procedure under the 4th Amendment. (Warrantless searches are a big part of our syllabus!)

I use videos from iCivics -The Constitution Explained

I also use a lot of material from ICivics and Street Law and I create my own Quizlets.

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Do you have ideas and suggestions for other materials that should be included here?Maybe something that has been been helpful to you or someone else you know?

Just email stephen.horowitz@georgetown.edu and let me know. I’m happy to add more to this post. Thanks!

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 Two-Year LLM Experience: Tzu-ching (Jin) Lin

By Tzu-ching (Jin) Lin, Georgetown LLM Class of 2024. Lin is a graduate of National Chengchi University and previously practiced law in Taiwan for five years.

I’m very happy to have the opportunity to share my two-year LLM experience at Georgetown Law. 

Before I started at Georgetown Law, I didn’t know much about Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM program. Initially, I thought the one-year program was too short, and pursuing a JD was too expensive for me. However, over these two years, I’ve gained valuable knowledge and accumulated local experience in the US.

So, I want to take this chance to share my LLM plan and experience, and offer some advice to future students considering this path. In this post, I’ll first outline my LLM plan and how I executed it. Next, I’ll share insights on finding externships. Finally, I’ll delve into my overall experience and provide some advice. My aim is to create a comprehensive two-year LLM guideline that can assist future students.

Through these two parts, I hope to convey that the two-year program isn’t just for those who aren’t proficient in English; rather, it’s an academic program where you can enhance your knowledge, skills, and accumulate practical experience in the US.

  1. LLM plan

Before enrolling in Georgetown Law, my plan was to enhance my legal writing skills and complete 12 credits to meet the NY Bar requirements during my first year. For my second year, I intended to enroll in an Environmental and Energy Law program, with a focus on international arbitration and energy law.

National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taiwan

During the first year of Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM program, most classes are mandatory, eliminating the need to worry about registration. Instead, the focus should be on immersing oneself in the class material and understanding the US culture. In the Legal English I & II courses, taught by Professors Stephen Horowitz, John Dundon, and Benjamin Cheng, they not only guided us on how to read cases thoroughly but also provided a critical thinking aspect to help us better understand how to work with common law. This guidance proved invaluable, allowing me to read cases more efficiently in my second year. 

One unique aspect of the two-year program that I particularly enjoyed was the emphasis on Legal Writing. What made it special was having professors with both law and linguistic degrees. It felt like having a writing coach guide us in thinking like English writers and developing skills in crafting memoranda and academic papers.

Prof. Julie Lake

For example, Prof. Julie Lake, my instructor for the Fundamentals of Legal Writing course, was able to provide invaluable suggestions and guidance as I learned the process of writing a legal memorandum and an academic paper. She not only taught me the basics of English writing, but more importantly, she taught me how to analyze my own writing problems so that I could develop a method of self-correcting my writing. This enabled me to write very effectively and with confidence in the seminar class I took in my second year of the program.

To further support my goal of enhancing my legal writing, I also applied to become an advisor for the Georgetown Journal of International Law (GJIL) and was fortunate to be selected. As an advisor, my responsibilities included checking citations and even afforded me the opportunity to write posts for the GJIL blog on topics such as how arbitration awards from Taiwan can be recognized internationally. Typically, LLM students are not afforded the opportunity to publish notes in student journals. But if you’re motivated and know about opportunities like this in advance, you can gain writing experience that can be beneficial for your career.

  1. Externship

Additionally, for those interested in an externship, whether in the summer or the following spring, it’s advisable to start crafting a resume at the beginning of the semester.

Lin (center) with some of his classmates in Prof. Horowitz’s Legal English I class.

In general, LLM students are usually limited to one externship opportunity, and some two-year students may opt to undertake an externship during the summer. However, if you enroll in Georgetown’s Environmental and Energy Law LLM program, you have the chance to pursue a second externship, as it is a requirement for the program; otherwise, you would need to take a practicum course. Personally, I completed my first externship in the summer and my second externship in the spring. As a Two-Year LLM program student, you can utilize “Pre-completion OPT” (i.e., Optional Practical Training) after completing your first academic year. I used this option to secure an internship during my second year, accumulating three local experiences in the US., which I believe will enhance my job prospects.

For a Taiwanese lawyer without international experience, finding an externship in the US. can be challenging. However, there are ways to enhance your chances. Firstly, it’s crucial to prepare a  resume, cover letter, and writing sample, as these materials play a more significant role than you might think. They not only align with the American culture of job hunting but also reflect the effectiveness of your written communication – how well you can showcase your strengths in concise terms. Regarding resume and cover letter, the staff of Georgetown Law’s Office of Graduate Careers are always ready to help. But for me I think the most helpful material was their “Career Manual” because it contains numerous templates, which are extremely helpful when writing an American-style resume and cover letter.

Secondly, adopting the right mindset is essential. Many may think, “My English is not good enough,” or “I lack relevant experience, so I won’t be able to find an externship.” However, sometimes, it’s not just about language skills and experience; it’s about having the courage to try. As Prof. Yi Song, Executive Director of the Office of Graduate & International Programs at Georgetown Law, wisely advised me, “You have nothing to lose, just try it.” With this mindset, I believe that you can successfully secure an externship during your LLM.

  1. Conclusion

Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity. You can choose to travel around and experience different cultures, or you can opt to focus on building up your professional skills. It’s not a matter of right or wrong; it’s a matter of personal choice. 

Lin (back right) at end-of-semester bbq party at Prof. Horowitz’s home.

However, when you choose to enhance your professional skills, don’t limit yourself to just studying at school. You can add vibrant colors to your study abroad experience by actively engaging with professors and seeking externships. This advice holds particularly true for those interested in a two-year program. 

With more time at your disposal, you have the opportunity to explore your interests, resources and deepen your professional knowledge. So, be sure to approach this journey with passion and enjoy every moment of it.

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