It is logical that the international language of business is also used as the international language of law. English, and more correctly, Legal English is now the established language of international law and contract drafting. Lawyers across the world working in private practises, large multinationals and international institutions are now required to possess competency in Legal English.
While legal English courses such as English for Lawyers and Drafting Contracts in English are now widely available for lawyers, training specifically targeted at legal support staff is less commonly recognised. Legal secretaries and paralegals play a vital role in the successful running of any law firm or legal department.
We all know what a legal secretary is, but what exactly are paralegals? Also known as legal assistants, they support solicitors in their legal tasks. As the Law Society stated in the findings of its research and policy planning study n° 23, ‘…Paralegal staff, properly qualified, enable solicitors to concentrate on the more complex cases and they also increase the productivity of the firm’
As far as finding a suitable training course is concerned, properly trained paralegals and legal secretaries in legal English will help increase the efficiency of the profession they work in and, logically, the confidence of the company’s clients
Legal secretaries and paralegals need to have the skills and technical knowledge to be able to carry out their daily tasks efficiently. These competences can best be acquired on a specialised legal English course.
The content of such a course provides the delegate with essential background knowledge about the different legal systems and the specific terminology associated with them. Punctuation and certain grammatical points can be different in legal writing from everyday business and general language. Therefore, comprehending and being able to interpret legal documents in English is a skill to be learned. Drafting texts such as contracts and legal letters is also important.
Although there are certain fundamentals that all legal secretaries and paralegals should know, law is a vast area and the delegate should look for a training course that adapts as much as possible to his/her specific field of work: tax, intellectual property, real estate, corporate finance, to name a few. It is important that the delegate feels that the time spent on a training course is well spent. This concern diminishes if the training organisation approaches the course in a specific way. The delegate’s level of English and specific needs should be diagnosed before a tailored programme is drawn up. The training organisation should also guarantee that its trainers are dual qualified: legal professionals and English language trainers.
Even though the training course focuses on a specific professional area, it must not be forgotten that the course is in English and the delegate will be learning to carry out specific legal tasks in this language. It is therefore logical to look into the range of legal English courses in the UK, England or even London. In this way, the delegate can be immersed in the English language outside as well as inside the training room. Confidence in the language, clear pronunciation, fluency and ability to understand English spoken at a natural speed are skills which improve by following a course in an English language speaking country. Another advantage of following a legal English course in the UK is that as a paralegal you can experience the legal terminology being used in a natural environment through visits to a Court or to a law firm.
There are a lot of courses for paralegals and legal secretaries in the UK, but there are not many specially designed by organisations to improve the delegate’s linguistic skills at the same time. One such organisation, however, is Communicaid, whose Legal Englishcourses are available in its main training centre in London or in any other place of the delegate’s choice at any time of the year.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2010