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.

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

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

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