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Michael Davies graduated with a top LLB (Hons) Law degree from The University of Wales. Since then, he has been teaching English to lawyers from all over the world. He is now based in London and works as a senior instructor for Legal English Language Training UK, the world leader in language training for lawyers and other legal professionals.
Having worked with many Italian lawyers and noted their strong desire to improve their language skills, it is useful to know what are their strengths and weaknesses in this area. This article was originally written to be shared in-house among our tutors but I have been asked to share it on here for the good of other tutors and students.
Differences in the legal system
The Italian legal system holds many differences to the English legal system, not least the length of time involved for a case to come to court. Some of the personnel involved in English law are different from those that you meet in English law and this should be taught in the first few classes.
Lawyers are highly trained professionals undertaking demanding roles. Any tutor working with high achieving individuals like this will need to be highly experienced in teaching Legal English and the law of England and Wales. Tutors will need to answer intricate questions and run classes in areas that few people know about. This is why only truly exceptional language tutors are needed.
Standard of English
In our experience, Italian lawyers have already attained a good standard of general English and business English, but they need greater emphasis on how our law works and how British lawyers operate. This is where the focus of classes should be, although teachers should obviously pay attention to grammar skills if that is what is needed.
Difficulties with legal jargon
Legal English is a mishmash of Latin, French, English and Old Norse and would cause difficulties for native speakers of the language let alone an Italian legal professional. Legal jargon such as herewith, whereof and thereby can cause a degree of confusion for lawyers who have just started to work in the UK.
Italian law firms are structured differently to law firms in the UK and Italian lawyers need to appreciate this. There are cultural issues to note in dealing with British lawyers and non-lawyers as well and the language that you need to know should be acknowledged here.
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