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A question our Legal English for Law students often ask our tutors is what can they do to develop their English language skills and knowledge of the law away from the classroom. A simple answer is to immerse yourself in as much legal English as possible, which means reading newspaper reports and court records, listening to radio programmes that specialise in the law ('Law in Action' on BBC Radio Four for example) and watching TV shows that feature lawyers.
We asked our team of teachers to pick out (choose) a few dramas and comedies from the US, the UK and Australia that feature lawyers and which will benefit Legal English, TOLES and ILEC students. This is what they found:
Rumpole of the Bailey
Barristers are a separate branch of the English legal profession who act as advocates for cases in the higher courts. They also offer legal advice and draft expert opinions for solicitors. Barristers tend to specialise in a particular field of law.
To develop a strong understanding of English language and law, seek out as many episodes and clips of Rumpole as you can find. Horace Rumpole is a character who has featured in books, a radio show with Benedict Cumberbatch and a superb British TV series from the 1980s. The stories are based around a criminal defence barrister working in London. The barrister has a great understanding of the English language and by watching or listening to a few episodes, you will hopefully develop a deeper knowledge of English and the law. This clips shows how well a great communicator of English can mix idiomatic language with more formal styles of English.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the name of the body responsible for prosecuting crimes in the United Kingdom and many commonwealth nations; including Australia. This show is set in Australia and looks at the personal and professional lives of a group of solicitors who have just joined the CPS.
While the show is not on the same level as Rumpole in terms of language and the law, it does offer a good introduction to an area of law that is not covered by the media particularly well. Australian English is not something that many English language learners in the northern hemisphere ever are exposed to, so a show like this can provide some help with comprehension as well.
Lawyers from around the world are used to watching this show, and so it might not be a particularly original idea for you to watch it. Of all the recent legal shows coming from the United States, this is the show that offers the most in terms of strong dialogue between the characters. It also serves to demonsrate how differently American lawyers operate from lawyers in the UK and Australia. It also has the added bonus of featuring Prince Harry's latest squeeze Meghan Markle.
Legal English Language Training UK is the best school of English language and Law classes for lawyers, law students, paralegals and legal professionals in London, on-line and across the world. For more information call 020 3566 0145, e-mail us or fill out the form on this screen.