Anna Borozdina, a certified Cambridge English examiner and Legal English tutor, answered questions from the ILTI-Research team about the most common prejudices and difficulties in learning legal English.
For what reasons do people often start to take legal English seriously?
I can name the Top 3 reasons: the desire to participate in international conferences, where you want to feel confident; the need to understand English-language agreements and work with them, especially in the field of IT; as well as the desire for career growth, getting a better position, which requires the possession of professional vocabulary.
What is usually expected from classes?
* Smiles * They want to hear at once, to understand at once, to remember everything at once - and this does not happen. I think this is the biggest misconception. Everyone, not only lawyers - when you start doing something, it should be systematic, gained knowledge - use them at work. If knowledge is not used, it is gradually lost in any case, but it may still be needed sometime in the future.
From which level of English is it better to start practicing law?
B1, because it is no longer necessary to explain the most basic grammar, to emphasize the translation of the accompanying vocabulary. With A2 it is also possible, but then you need to be prepared for difficulties. Although I am often told when they first come: "I know everything, I just need to tighten up the conversation a bit", but with groups this happens less often - they understand that the course is not just designed for three months. It takes time to cover even the most basic.
How long does it take to move from a conditional legal "A0" at least one degree higher?
If you practice 2 times a week for an hour and a half, then about 3 months per level, but this will not cover all topics. Therefore, we start with two main and most necessary topics - Corporate and Contract Law.
What do you recommend to compensate for the lack of active conversational practice?
This is difficult because all other sources are podcasts, and movies don't make up for it. I would recommend attending Speaking Clubs, Legal Talks or online seminars from time to time, because if you don't use vocabulary actively now, but only plan for the future, it will still have to be refreshed later.
What format of homework do you consider the most effective?
The main tasks I give to my students are drafting small parts of a contract or individual sentences, Reading skills best develop active reading with answers to questions or supplementing texts with professional vocabulary.
What prejudice about Legal English do you think is the most harmful?
Not only do lawyers need legal English. Even if you are not a lawyer, but work in an international company or are engaged in deliveries, sales - to have at least basic vocabulary is also extremely important! You read the documents, you take part in the processes, so the legal aspects in any case happen to you almost every day in your activity.
Which is more effective - individual lessons or in a group?
I think, for a start, it is definitely better to work in a group, because students share their own experiences, discuss cases - this is a great opportunity to get a conversational practice.