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)

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

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.”

LE Journal: ChatGPT conversations with Ukrainian legal English faculty

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English. LE Journal is an opportunity to share some of the current goings-on of Georgetown Law’s Legal English Faculty.

Professors Julie Lake and Heather Weger met via Zoom this week with four Ukrainian philologists (i.e, historical linguists) to discuss pedagogical approaches and the use of Chat GPT in Legal English classrooms.

The Ukrainian legal English faculty members were Anetta Artsysshevska, Nataliya Hrynya, and Lily Kuznetsova from Lviv Ivan Franko National University and Olena Zhyhadlo from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv Law School

We enjoyed a fruitful conversation about our collective successes and challenges, and we plan to meet again in February to continue the conversation.

The relationship evolved from a larger effort initiated by the Global Legal Skills community back in 2022 to foster connections and collaboration among law and legal English faculty in Ukraine

Updates from the Georgetown Legal English Faculty (December 2023)

Post by Stephen Horowitz, Professor of Legal English

Here’s what the Georgetown Legal English faculty have been up to over the fall 2023 semester….

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Heather Weger & Julie Lake & Michelle Ueland

Legal English team members Professors Julie Lake, Heather Weger, and Michelle Ueland designed and delivered an intensive 5-week Legal English program for the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine from November 13-December 15, 2023. They collaborated with Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security (with Professor Mitt Regan and Anna Cave) and the Atrocity Crime Advisory Group (ACA).

It was an honor to work with such dedicated colleagues and students. We look forward to future collaborations of this kind. Stay tuned for a more detailed blog post in January!

John Dundon

Professor John Dundon in Bonn, Germany

This September, Professor Dundon was invited to participate as a panel discussant at a linguistics conference at the University of Bonn, Germany. The title of the conference was “Language as a Social Practice: Constructing (a)symmetries in legal discourse,” and Professor Dundon spoke on a panel (together with professors from Germany and Finland) about how asymmetries in legal discourse can lead to societal injustice.

He thoroughly enjoyed attending the conference and considers himself very fortunate to have been invited to meet with so many leaders in the field of language and law. The conference proceedings will be published (together with a contribution from Professor Dundon) in an upcoming volume with Cambridge University Press.

In other news, Professor Dundon is finishing up his final year of coursework towards his doctorate in sociolinguistics. This semester, he is researching interactional features of Supreme Court oral arguments, and specifically the “production format” of utterances made by attorneys as they negotiate having to speak on behalf of themselves, their client, and their legal team. Professor Dundon is also conducting a survey of ideologies about language use and language learning on the public-facing websites of local bilingual schools in the District of Columbia.

Stephen Horowitz

Ukraine

*Collaborated with Artem Shaipov of USAID’s Justice For All program and several other legal English professors (Alissa Hartig, Susan Dudley, Catherine Beck, Oksana Kiriiak, and Linda Pope) to provide multiple legal English trainings for Ukrainian law faculty and legal English faculty over the course of the Fall 2023 semester.

*Led one of the trainings–9 sessions of Legal English Conversation–and recruited a cohort of 15 additional law/legal English volunteers (including colleague John Dundon) to engage with Ukrainian faculty in each Legal English Conversation session.

*Currently in the process of setting up additional trainings during Spring 2024. And planning a new round of matching Ukrainian law schools with any international law school/legal English faculty interested in teaching a course, guest lecturing, providing support for academic publishing, or helping in other ways. (Email Stephen.Horowitz@georgetown.edu if interested in volunteering in some capacity.)

*Recruited Georgetown Law JD students to participate in a six-week peer-to-peer legal writing project with students from Kyiv Molhya Academy University during the fall semester that involved JD students from several other US law schools as well. Currently recruiting more Georgetown Law students for the next session to start late January.

*In collaboration with law professor Alan Blakely, helped set up the Ukraine-related Resources Page.

*Reached a 500-day Duolingo streak for Ukrainian language study!

Afghanistan

*Continued conducting assessments for Afghan judges and lawyers in connection with the ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program. The assessment project is in collaboration with Prof. Daniel Edelson (Seton Hall/USLawEssentials.com) and Prof. Lindsey Kurtz (Penn State Law).

*Created, with Daniel Edelson, a self-guided online pre-LLM legal English program (i.e., Fundamentals of the US Legal System; Reading Cases; Legal Writing) to help prepare Afghan candidates getting ready to start an LLM program at a US law school.

*Currently working with ABA program leaders to recruit additional mentors–both law faculty and law students–to provide legal English and other support for the candidates. (Email Stephen.Horowitz@georgetown.edu if interested in volunteering.)

Japan

*Guest-lectured in three classes for the legal English course at Keio University Law School on the topics of Case Reading Strategies and the Language of Analogy.

USA

*Teaching a December/January “Bar Essay Writing Skills for LLM Students” online course for USLawEssentials together with Prof. Daniel Edelson. The course is designed to be accessible to all students who need it regardless of finances, and provides specialized bar essay writing support geared to non-native English speakers.

*Was the subject of interviews by Wordrake (on Legal English and Plain English) and Amicus Partners (on my career path to becoming a legal English professor.)

*Provided a book cover blurb for The “Getting to Yes” Guide for ESL Students and Professionals: Principled Negotiation for Non-Native Speakers of English by Barrie J. Roberts at the request of University of Michigan Press.

*Received a wonderful email from a former student, reprinted with her permission:

“I found out I passed the New York bar yesterday! I wanted to thank you specifically because both torts and criminal law came up on the exam. The torts essay was asking for all elements of negligence so that was our entire final exam for Legal English 1. The criminal law essay had 4 sub issues and they were all about Miranda rights, custodial interrogation and whether the defendant waived it knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently. Thank you again for the classes. I remember writing everything I learned from classes instead of from the bar prep materials for those two essays. I’m really grateful for that!”Sokunthyda Long (Cambodia), graduate of the 2-Year LLM Program at Georgetown Law

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Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and peace-filled holidays and New Year!

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