In it, Georgetown Law’s Jonah Perlin (associate professor of law, legal practice and creator of the HowILawyer podcast) re-examines the classic Christmas comedy Home Alone (starring Macaulay Culkin) and delves into what legal case the house robbers Marv and Harry might have against their 8-year-old foe, who goes to very creative lengths to foil their robbery attempts.
A fun way to work on one’s legal English over the holiday break, especially since the video has captions and Jonah provides very clear yet simple explanations!
As we start to shift past the “wow” factor of AI and ChatGPT (see, e.g., this very cool post from the FCPA Blog posing questions to ChatGPT related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and also this academic article titled “GPT Takes the Bar Exam“), I’ve seen articles and social media posts and heard comments and commentary focused on the potential plagiaristic dangers of ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence-fueled chatbot that can produce complex, natural-sounding essays in a matter of seconds:
This post from the Language Log blog about being able to identify essays created by Large Language Models like ChatGPT titled “Detecting LLM-created essays?” (And yes, it does appear that unhelpfully for those of us in the legal English world there is now a new and confusing meaning of LLM! Maybe some of us need to start being more intentional about including those periods in LL.M. 🙂
But my initial reaction was less of concern and more along the lines of, “What a great potential legal English tool! How can we use this to help our LLM students learn better?”
And this thinking feels connected to what I’ve read in articles like “AI and the Future of Undergraduate Writing” by Beth McMurtrie in The Chronicle of Higher Education which essentially says that the horse is out of the barn; how are we as teachers and educational institutions going to adapt our assessment methods and how can we use this as a teaching tool. (This is really the underlying point of “The End of High School English” as well.)
Some of my own tests of ChatGPT, by the way, have included:
1) To ask it to “write an essay comparing Marie Antoinette and Rachel Carson,” the idea being to see if it could find connections on two seemingly unrelated people. And it did this quite effectively, acknowledging the lack of connection but finding comparison and contrast in that they were women of different social status who had certain accomplishments. About as good as I could expect from any student given a similar question.
Organized a “Legal English Book Club” discussion with guest Alissa Hartig, Professor of Linguistics at Portland State University, on her use of Jeffrey P. Kaplan’s book Linguistics and Law in her course on linguistics and law titled, You Have the Right to Remain Silent: Language and the Law. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Completed co-teaching (with Prof. Daniel Edelson, Seton Hall Law) a 10-week online legal English course titled “Reading US Cases” for Ukrainian graduate law students at Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University. (The course was part of a larger initiative born by collaboration between USAID and the Global Legal Skills community through which a number of US law professors have been teaching courses, giving guest lectures, and supporting English language law publication for law schools in Ukraine.)
I want to take a moment to thank Senior Teacher Munisa Mirgiyazova and her colleagues and students at Tashkent State University of Law for inviting me to give an online webinar earlier this week on “The Benefits of Extensive Reading and Listening in Studying Law in English.” I greatly enjoyed the discussion and getting to meet everyone, and I look forward to future collaborations.
Reflecting on the presentation afterwards, I also realized that the collaborative opportunity came about because I posted something on LinkedIn (a new podcast episode maybe? I can’t remember now.) And Munisa saw it and sent me a LinkedIn connection request. I accepted and asked her how teaching was going in Tashkent. She replied and asked me how my teaching was going at Georgetown Law, and the subsequent conversation led to a discussion of ways to collaborate. A reminder that it’s often a good idea to leave conversational doors open and ask people about themselves.
I plan to share a recorded version of the presentation on this site after I make some edits to the original presentation and create the recording. Stay tuned!
Here’s the flyer for the event created by Tashkent State University of Law: