U.S. Law & Language Course
The U.S. Law & Language course is recommended for all students entering an LL.M program in the United States, as well as for judges, law professors and other legal professionals from other legal systems who are seeking to improve their fluency in English in an American legal context. While we do not require enrollment in this program for Pitt LL.M students, we strongly encourage them to attend.
Students entering this course should have basic competency in English, but may be unfamiliar with language and concepts they will encounter in American law schools. They may also be unfamiliar with how American law schools conduct classes. The U.S. Law & Language program addresses all of these needs for incoming LL.M students and other legal professionals.
In this course, students will learn to understand the language of the law and the American law school classroom. Students will immediately be immersed in reading, thinking, writing and speaking about the law in English and will gain insight and understanding into the American legal system. They will also learn to read and understand cases and statutes, and begin to feel comfortable using cases and statutes as precedent for hypothetical problems. Students will also gain experience in the many subtleties of using English to communicate in various legal settings. For example, students will engage in mock client interviews, negotiations and oral arguments. They will learn legal vocabulary and usage by developing skills they will need as law students, legal practitioners and scholars. Students will gain needed experience in using English in a law school setting by discussing legal problems in guided exercises with fellow students and through individual presentations. During the program, classroom discussions may also focus on study skills and other coping mechanisms that students need to develop to succeed in law school. These topics might range from culture shock to exam taking techniques.
Each day, students will practice reading and speaking and writing in English on interesting legal topics with personalized attention given to each student by the program's two professors. The professors give each student written and oral comments on his or her progress each day during the program. The professors assess each student's needs and work individually with the students to help them develop their legal English speaking, writing, listening and comprehension skills. They work with each student to help them make a successful transition from the role of attorney to that of a student in an American law school.
In addition to formal classroom instruction, field trips will be arranged for students to visit local legal institutions. In the past, students have observed trials, visited judges, toured courthouses and visited a jail.The U.S. Law & Language Program tries to empower each student to develop and refine the skills he or she needs to be comfortable and successful in an American LL.M program. This is accomplished through a program of limited enrollment and caring, personalized attention to each student.