What’s jury duty like? Some firsthand experience from Georgetown Law’s Darius Ngo

Darius Ngo, Director of Operations for Georgetown Law Office of Graduate & International Programs

Darius Ngo is the Director of Operations for the Office of Graduate & International Programs at Georgetown Law. He is not a lawyer nor a law professor. But like every other American citizen, he is required to report for jury duty when called. And that’s exactly what happened two weeks ago.

Jury duty is an intriguing curiosity for many of our LLM students (both in the Two-Year and One-Year LLM programs at Georgetown Law.) Especially for students coming from a country that doesn’t have jury duty in its legal system. And based on the media portrayal, jury duty is an experience of high drama, full of action and plot twists. Or cases where a woman is awarded millions of dollars for spilling hot coffee on herself. Or even cases involving a former US president!

For that reason, we thought it might be both helpful and interesting to ask Darius to share his own personal experience with jury duty. Here are some of his thoughts:

I was summoned on Monday morning and selected that late afternoon. The trial was on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the jury deliberated and provided a verdict on the charge.

The case I was on was a criminal misdemeanor sexual assault case, and we found the defendant guilty of the charge.

I think the most fascinating parts of the process were 1) watching the prosecutors and defendants try to discredit the opposing witnesses during cross examination, 2) watching closing remarks and how each side addressed the jury and how each narrative was spun, and 3) the deliberations itself since each juror had different perspectives. We deliberated for the day because we were going back and forth on whether we believed it was beyond reasonable doubt that the charge occurred. But at the end of the day, the evidence presented was clear.

It was definitely a great experience seeing the process unfold. My experience of jury duty in the past has been standing in line, waiting in the juror lounge and being dismissed after a long day. But beyond that and getting chosen, I definitely felt like I did my civic duty and contributed.

I think the most arduous part of the process is the first day of sitting, waiting, answering the judge’s selection questions, and the anticipation of getting selected or dismissed. I think that’s the majority of people’s experience with jury duty since so few are selected. But once selected, I think being in court and contributing to the U.S. justice system was very fulfilling since I am just an ordinary person not trained in law.

For LLM students who want to learn and hear more about jury duty, we encourage you to stop by the Office of Graduate & International Programs (Hotung, 5th floor) and ask Darius about it the next time you see him!

FYI, Hotung is the building on the left, behind the clocktower.

2-Year LLM Program alum Paloma Cipolla Moguilevsky featured in “Master of Laws” season 3 interview

Post by Prof.  Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

The latest interview in the Master of Laws series (conceived and produced by Georgetown Law’s Yi Song) focuses on Georgetown Two-Year LLM Program alum Paloma Cipolla Moguilevsky, an associate at the law firm of Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, DC

How did a moot court competition turn into her job offer at BigLaw?

Paloma initially aspired to become diplomat when she began law school. Fluent in Spanish and English and having been raised in Argentina and Spain, she has a keen interest in international affairs. It was not until she started her LLM at Georgetown that she begun to explore a career in international arbitration. Paloma was a member of the team that represented Gerogetown at the 2018 LLM Commercial & Investment Arbitration Moot Competition. One of the coaches happened to be a lawyer at Jones Day. Paloma stayed in touch with her moot court coach after the competition. When a position became available at Jones Day, Paloma applied and ultimately received the job offer.

What was the job application process for Paloma?

How did she get into BigLaw right after receiving her LLM?

What’s her insight on getting a summer internship position at the World Bank?

Continue on to the Masters of Law Interviews with Yi Song website to listen to and read more about Paloma’s experience and career journey.

You can also subscribe to the Master of Laws LinkedIn weekly newsletter to receive FREE insider tips.

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.

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

Post by Profs. Heather Weger and Julie Lake

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

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

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

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer.

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

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

Below is Lake and Weger’s innovative proposal:

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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)

Law & Language: Miranda warning or warnings?

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

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

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

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

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

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