Building a successful Law Career - Part 10
Lawyers need to produce emails, texts, and documents that serve the needs of the client. These needs include solving existing problems efficiently, foreseeing and forestalling future problems, issues, tensions, and uncertainties, which occur in all forms of human social and economic transactions. Courts, in particular, are growing increasingly impatient with lawyers’ texts, which are so badly written that they result in litigation.
The spread of Common Law Court systems in Civil law Countries, such as the DIFC in Dubai and the newer court systems now developing in Abu Dhabi and Kazakhstan, all contribute to the requirement for lawyers to possess a high level of legal English ability to appear before the courts and to conduct cases and other legal business.
In the 21st-century, with the de-facto use of English as the language of international business, legal English has become even more important in the international legal sphere. It is the common legal language, which all non-native English speaking lawyers use in their international transactions. This leads to the simple rule that, if you want to practice international law – you must be able to use legal English effectively.
Throughout this book I have tried to provide tips and guidance which will assist you in developing, speeding up, and achieving success in your legal career. If I had to choose just one piece of advice, above all others, then it has to be – Constantly improve your legal English ability!
Law students around the world are now required to study so much law in their degree courses, that they have no time to develop professional skills. Because of this, you will quickly be able to gain an advantage over your contemporaries if you can improve your legal English ability to a high level. One other point is almost certain, as well: Unless you are able to speak English and deal with legal English effectively then you have little chance of becoming an international lawyer. Clients will not wish to deal with a lawyer who can only communicate with them through an interpreter. Clients prefer the human element and want to deal direct with the lawyer who is handling their matter.
Lawyers who operate internationally, who communicate with clients and other professionals across different cultures, have a need for both trans-national legal awareness and trans-cultural linguistic awareness. Whatever the nature of the legal writing, whether for correspondence, documents or courts, legal skills and language skills are a vital part of a lawyer’s professional training.
In particular, legal English is particularly important in relation to legal writing and the drafting of written texts including contracts, court pleadings and judgements, legislation, and legal correspondence. Whilst legal English has been the traditional preserve of lawyers from the English-speaking countries, which share common law traditions, the spread of international legal work as extended the use of legal English into a global phenomenon. I will repeat what I said earlier – you cannot practice international law unless you can effectively use legal English.
Fortunately, there are many legal English courses and course providers, including online courses, which will help you to develop your legal English soft skills. The problem with legal English is that it is a distinct type of English, in effect a sub-language, as it is so different from ordinary conversational English. It is not based on the ordinary logical rules of any natural language but, because it is derived from at least four different linguistic traditions, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, ancient Norse language, and Norman French, it has extremely complex grammar rules and strange linguistic patterns. It is not English as you learnt it at school, but a language developed by lawyers over the last 1,800 years, beginning in the third century A.D. with Latin and then building in Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Norman French and archaic forms of English from the 17th and 18th century. You cannot master this language without studying it and perfecting its use through constant practice.
Why is it so important for newly qualified lawyers?
Learning legal terms is important for your career if you are studying law regardless of the country. The main reason behind this is the rise in globalization. Since many people study in one country and then apply their learned skills by moving to another country, it is important that you should be able to communicate well while interacting with others.
Since learning both written and spoken legal communication skills is essential to succeed in the legal profession, you should give special emphasis to it. You can test your legal language skills yourself by enrolling in a specific program that caters to lawyers who want to polish their language skills in applying legal terminologies. You can take a free on-line test of your legal English ability on the British legal Centre website at: https://www.british-legal-centre.com/tests-list.
Following the test you will receive instant e-mail feedback on your Legal English strengths and weaknesses plus suggestions for future study to improve your ability and knowledge.
Learning legal terms along with the concepts of law is the only way you can represent yourself as a lawyer. Due to a challenging market for lawyers, it is a necessity for all lawyers.
When you enter the market as a qualified lawyer, you will come across various clients in the country you have shifted to. Similarly, you will have to use all the legal terminologies that other lawyers use in that region. For instance, if you have studied law from Brazil and you want to practice in the US, you will most likely interact with US attorneys. In order to talk to them regarding legal matters, you must adapt their legal language, i.e. English used in law that is particular to their region. If you do not know universally accepted legal terminology then you will be unable to work with other lawyers wherever they are. If you want to progress your career and also make yourself invaluable to your employer and client, then master legal English and its uses in documents and texts.
There are so many courses, which one is best for me?
There is too much law in the world for you to know all of it, and there is so much legal English relating to this law that it’s best if you are selective in the course or courses you choose to help you develop. If you were in shipping law then there is little point in you learning about the 'Right of capture doctrine' or 'Mother Hubbard' clauses from Oil and Gas law. For those who need to improve their legal vocabulary and legal grammar, a general course of legal English would probably be the best way to begin. Once you understand the vocabulary and grammar then it would be useful to take a course of legal writing, not only to practice and develop what you know but also to develop new techniques and skills to use the language to persuade and argue. It is a natural progression from mastering legal writing to moving onto writing contracts and legal documents – so that a contract and legal document-drafting course should be the next stage of your improvement. From then on, it might be worthwhile to take a more specialised course of practical law and legal soft skills to polish your ability to practice in a specific sphere of work, e.g. arbitration law and practice, oil and gas law.
It's difficult to over-stress how useful it is to immerse yourself for one, two, or even three weeks at a legal Summer School in an English speaking country. Your general command of English will improve as well as your knowledge and skill in using legal English, along with legal writing and contract drafting. I truly believe that the British legal centre’s Summer School programme is the best value in the market, but there are other companies offering training in different places, so you will have to choose firstly, whether you want to invest this time and money in yourself, and which offer to choose.
The final step would be to take a QLTS exam preparation course to prepare yourself for the UK law society's qualified lawyers transfer scheme exams. Applicants who pass both levels of these exams will then be automatically qualified as UK solicitors able to practice anywhere in the world where UK solicitors can practice. You will find UK solicitors in Hong Kong, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, the US and a hundred other countries. By raising your legal English skill level to pass these exams you will become a true international lawyer.
I anticipate that those of you who have read through this book, will have in mind becoming international lawyers travelling to, and working in, different cities around the world in international law and business, so here are some free materials to get you started.
Some free materials to get you started
To help you achieve this, and thank you for taking the time and effort to read through these chapters here is a link to some free materials. Let me invite you to visit the website of our company: www.british-legal-centre.com. Here you’ll find free tests of your general English and legal English ability – you will receive immediate feedback by email on the results of your tests. You will also be able to access and view free trial lessons from the Legal English course, the Legal writing course, and our very popular Contract and legal document drafting course.
The website also has details of the QLTS exam preparation course and we can arrange a free telephone consultation to give you more information about the course and guidance on the amount of time needed to bring your English up to the level required to pass the exams.
The last messages I want to leave you with relate to success and developing yourself and your career come from famous people. I know that some people may argue with my advice in the chapters in this book, but it's difficult to argue with the advice from these successful people.
"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it". H.Thoreau.
"There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed". Ray Goforth.
"Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts". Winston S.Churchill.
I agree with Churchill – I believe it's important to experience failure at least once in your life, in order for you to learn how to get past it and move on to success.
And something I heard somewhere but I don't know who said it first. “In life you will meet three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who say: what happened?” Make sure that you're one of the ones who make things happen. Success is there waiting for you. Go out and take it – why shouldn't you have it? But remember, no one else is going to deliver it for you. Your own actions and determination are going to be needed on this journey.
And lastly, from Albert Einstein speaking about Success: “Try not to become a person of success, rather become a person of value!” Kipling spoke about ‘Success’ and ‘Failure’ being two imposters and Einstein’s words puts the idea into context – Enjoy your career, but don’t be a slave to it!
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to read through this book.
I hope it will inspire you to new ideas and actions to develop yourself and your career. Feel free to contact me through our company website for advice on courses or career planning. I will always be happy to hear from you and will do my best to give you honest reliable advice to help you progress your career and abilities. You can contact me at: email@example.com
Part 1 - Some general basics
Part 2 - Growing your own professional client base – Networking Events
Part 3 - Essential skills – The Ability to speak in Public
Part 4 - Writing a successful CV
Part 5 - Giving a successful Interview – What to do and what not to do
Part 6 - Letter writing skills
Part 7 - Deciding which area of law to work in
Part 8 - Seven skills that will land you work experience at a law firm
Part 9 - How to move your career into top gear – Winning quick promotions
Part 10 - The Key to moving ahead in your career – Mastering Legal English!