LLMs and JD students: Creating opportunities for interaction

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Question: Aside from class integration and language partners, have you done any programs at your respective schools that have been particularly effective at bringing these groups together?

I recently saw the above question (on a listserv for LLM program administrators) about ways to foster connections between LLM students and JD students, as this type of integration is something greatly appreciated by LLM students and can make a program more appealing and provide a richer and fuller experience for LLM students.

For JD students, on the other hand, this is not necessarily something many of them are seeking as they often have their own priorities and pressure-filled law school lives. So how do you flush out the JD students who might be interested in connecting with LLM students? Or create opportunities for connection and interaction that are genuinely engaging and don’t feel forced?

Here are some previous ideas and experiences I shared for building LLM-JD connections and interaction that are a little outside the usual ideas and which I thought may be helpful or inspire new ideas:

Continue reading “LLMs and JD students: Creating opportunities for interaction”

A podcast about women lawyers…and legal English?

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Heels in the Courtroom” is a podcast by three female lawyers who talk about being a woman and working in law. In their latest episode (“Ep 510: Can you please stop comparing?“) they discuss the innate need we have to compare ourselves to others and the ways it affects them in their own law practice as well as the ways they struggle with comparing themselves to others in their personal lives.

In additional to being an extremely relevant and engaging topic and discussion, it’s also a wonderful source of legal English (and socio-emotional English) as they regularly reference their work on depositions, jury selection, settlement negotiations, etc.

It’s a refreshing kind of conversation to hear among lawyers and also provides great insights into American legal culture, and American culture in general, which is valuable for any lawyer or law student from another country or culture who is planning to study at a US law school or work with American lawyers in some context.

It’s worth also noting that their previous episodes toggle between career advice and work-life balance topics (e.g., Ep 503: Got Nerves?, Ep 418: “Back Off Buddy.”; Dealing with Intimidation in the Deposition, and Ep 506: Don’t Take it Personally) and more specific, technical legal topics (e.g., Ep 419: Sovereign Immunity, Ep 415: Jury Instructions and Ep 317: Deposition Objections).

So if you like podcasts and want to improve your legal English, definitely check out Heels in the Courtroom.

Podcast interview with legal translator Paula Arturo

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

I was very excited this morning to see that Daniel Sebesta of the American Translators Association (ATA) podcast had done a podcast interview with my Georgetown Legal English colleague, Professor Paula Arturo, about her work and career path as a legal translator. Episode and more info from the ATA website below:

From the ATA website:

“This is not another lawyer-turned-translator story which just goes to show you that there’s more one way to become a legal translator! In this episode of Inside Specialization, lawyer-linguist Paula Arturo tells ATA member Daniel Sebesta about the role passion plays in the decision to become a legal translator and why how much you’re willing to learn is key to becoming one of the best. You’ll also discover why “follow the money” is the secret to choosing a subspecialty, how you can compete against machine translation, and a surprising skill you’ll need to climb this career ladder.Comments? Email podcast@atanet.org.”

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

Legal English accessibility in China

Internet in China: Prices and Providers for Your House and Cellphone

I just learned yesterday (thanks to my friend Eileen who is based in Shanghai) that this Georgetown Legal English blog is not accessible in China (at least not without a VPN.) I think it might be that fact that the URL is .domains and not .com or .org. But I really don’t know.

If anyone is aware of any way to view this site in China (aside from using a VPN), please don’t hesitate to get in touch at sh1643@georgetown.edu.

I also learned that the USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast and website, which is listed on the Legal English Resources page of this blog, is not accessible in China (at least not without a VPN) via the main website or via the Apple podcast app. However, I did figure out that the podcast episodes can be accessed in China via two other podcast platform links: this link or this link.

If anyone becomes aware of any other links on the Legal English Resources page that don’t work in China–along with any alternative links that do work–please don’t hesitate to let me know at sh1643@georgetown.edu or in the comment section below.

I’m aware, of course, that anything Google/YouTube among other sources will not be accessible. But after the big players, I’m much less clear on what is and isn’t accessible.

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

An interview with Georgetown Legal English Professor John Terry Dundon

In the latest episode of the USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast’s series on Multilingual Lawyers, I interview my colleague (and friend) Professor John Terry Dundon, an accomplished attorney and linguist, about his passion for language and teaching legal English. We learn about his career path from some of the most premier law firms in the world to teaching an immersive legal English transactional course at Georgetown Law.

Multilingual Lawyer: John Dundon

Book recommendations on language, law, race, and politics for LLMs coming to the Washington, DC area

Post by Prof. Stephen Horowitz, Legal English Lecturer

Are you an LLM student who will be studying (or has studied) at Georgetown Law, George Washington Law, American University Washington College of Law, University of Maryland Law, George Mason Scalia Law, University of Virginia Law or any other law school in the greater Washington, DC metro area?

Here are three books that may be interesting and helpful reads for better gaining background knowledge on language, legal, racial and political topics in the DC area. Even if you never read these books, just reading a little bit about them will go a long way towards giving you useful cultural perspectives, not to mention relevant conversation topics for engaging with classmates, professors, and others.

cover art

1. The Black Side of the River: Race, Language, and Belonging in Washington, DC

by Jessica A. Grieser

“In The Black Side of the River, sociolinguist Jessi Grieser draws on ten years of interviews with dozens of residents of Anacostia, a historically Black neighborhood in Washington, DC, to explore these ideas through the lens of language use. Grieser finds that residents use certain speech features to create connections among racial, place, and class identities; reject negative characterizations of place from those outside the community; and negotiate ideas of belonging. In a neighborhood undergoing substantial class gentrification while remaining decisively Black, Grieser finds that Anacostians use language to assert a positive, hopeful place identity that is inextricably intertwined with their racial one.”

And here’s a book review by HillRag which provides additional insight on the book.

Politics & Prose Presents Rosa Brooks on "TANGLED UP IN ...

2. Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City

by Rosa Brooks (Georgetown Law professor and former Dean of the Office of Graduate Studies, i.e., for a couple of years she was in charge of LLM programs at Georgetown Law)

Why Professor Rosa Brooks Added Police Officer to Her ...
Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks

From Goodreads:

Journalist and law professor Rosa Brooks goes beyond the blue wall of silence in this radical inside examination of American policing

In her forties, with two children, a spouse, a dog, a mortgage, and a full-time job as a tenured law professor at Georgetown University, Rosa Brooks decided to become a cop. A liberal academic and journalist with an enduring interest in law’s troubled relationship with violence, Brooks wanted the kind of insider experience that would help her understand how police officers make sense of their world–and whether that world can be changed. In 2015, against the advice of everyone she knew, she applied to become a sworn, armed reserve police officer with the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department.

Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D ...

3. Dream City: Race, Power and the Decline Revival(?) of Washington, DC (20th Anniversary Edition)

By Harry S. Jaffe and Tom Sherwood

The title is potentially misleading. The book was published in 1994 and much has changed since then as DC (and many other cities in the US) are flourishing economically. So make sure to read the 20th Anniversary Edition with all of its updates.

But it provides great insight into the modern history of a major city (Washington, CD) without a state. The US Congress is actually in charge of DC and didn’t even allow it a mayor until 1978. And that’s when things get really crazy.

Marion Barry, Former Washington DC Mayor, Dies At 78 ...
Marion Barry next to a poster for the movie made about him.

It’s also the political history of Mayor Marion Barry, a true character in the modern history of Washington, DC. You need to get to know Barry to truly understand Washington, DC. Also, mentioning Mayor Barry is a great way to get any Washingtonian talking with you if you’re ever trying to make conversation. Everyone has an opinion, a story, a reaction.

The book is also offers great insights and perspectives on corruption. In fact, a former LLM student of mine from Italy who had written about corruption and organized crime in Italy greatly enjoyed and appreciated the book after I suggested it to him.

Advice for applicants to LLM programs

international business lawyer

My friend and former colleague Joshua Alter recently posted on LinkedIn some very frank and helpful advice for students preparing to participate in an LLM program in the US. With his permission I’m re-posting here for the benefit of future LLMs who may follow the Georgetown Legal English Blog.

It’s the time of year when international LLMs begin finalizing their plans for August. Advice I share with my LEALS students as they prepare to join a law school, modeled on what I’ve done over my career to onboard international LLMs:

1. Reach out to a current student at the school you’re planning to attend! I hope your school has already made a few introductions, but if not, use LinkedIn or your existing network to reach out to someone currently at the school (JD or LLM). Or, ask your school to make that introduction. It’s helpful to know people who can share advice on a number of academic, professional, and personal experiences. You’ll also begin to learn about the community based on those interactions.

2. Reach out to an alum at the school you’re planning to attend! Similar to #1 above. The LLM experience isn’t just about the education or the credential. Plugging into a high-powered or high-profile network can also be a major value-add if used properly. This is even more important if you’re planning to stay in that jurisdiction to practice. Find someone (through LinkedIn or request through your school) in a similar practice area or market.

3. Schedule a one-on-one with whoever the “me” is at your school. I tell my students that if they “begin” their LLM experience at orientation it may feel like a very short LLM experience. In the months before you begin, you can build a course schedule and research agenda. You can start thinking through bar exam eligibility and roadmap. You can begin building the foundations for a CPT or OPT experience (depending on # of semesters and programs). You can begin getting involved in a student organization. And with so much virtual nowadays, you may be able to attend a lecture or event.

Joshua Alter

If you’re an LLM student, or an LLM graduate, or thinking about applying to an LLM program in the US, does this seem like helpful advice? Have you done any of these things? Is there anything else you did–or wish you would have done? Please feel free to post a comment below, or let me know by email at sh1643@georgetown.edu.