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Law School Learning Outcomes: Legal English Course Contribution

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Standards of professional legal education are developed by different organizations: in some countries these are governmental bodies, in others these are professional associations. Apart from a country these standards include Learning Outcomes which shape law schools’ curricula. Both American and European standards mention, to different extent, written and oral communication in the legal context, but a number and contents of subjects directed at developing and mastering professional communicative competency differ a lot. There are disciplines totally devoted to the competency named (e.g. legal writing) as well as courses in which communicative skills are an integral constituent for their successful completion (e.g. basis of negotiations/mediation/client consultation).

The article goal is to find a place and role of a Legal English (LE) course in achieving learning outcomes connected with professional communicative competence. The methodology incorporated desk and field studies. The literature review is aimed at identifying current state of affairs in American law schools, as they provide first-class legal education recognized all over the world, and in Russian law schools, as the author works in this system and is interested in its development. A questionnaire was designed to explore Russian law school graduates’ assessment of practicality of subjects they had studied for their professional activities.

The analysis of literature and Internet sources allowed to specify the ways of teaching written and oral communication in American law schools and to highlight the situation in Russian legal education. It shows that the Russian system is characterized by predominance of teaching theory of substantive and procedural rules of law and lack of curriculum disciplines aimed at cultivating skills and competencies.

A survey of Russian law schools’ recent graduates indicates that most of communicative, in a broad sense, skills, which they use in their everyday work, were obtained within their LE classes. So, complementing a LE course with modules devoted to different aspects of legal writing and specific patterns of lawyer-client, lawyer-lawyer, lawyer-judge communication will definitely contribute to achieving learning outcomes which are put forward by legal education standards.

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Sujets de la revue:
Philosophy, other