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Legal English Workbook

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A guide used for the Legal English Workshop Online.

Text of Legal English Workbook

Legal EnglishWo r k s h o p2013 edition

G u i d e

Prof. Mario Gonzlez-Hernndezw o

LegalEnglishr k s h o p

Chapter 1

Getting StartedThis chapter will help our participants determine personal strengths and areas of opportunity. We associate our materials with individual interests and specic skills. A diagnostic evaluation will be carried out in and out of the classroom.

Chapter 1

Getting StartedCONTENT 1. Introduction a. Practical understanding and usage of English and Spanish grammar. b. Accurate interpretation and application of legal concepts and terms. c. Insight on comparative law from dierent traditions. d. Use of tools and technology. 2. Preliminary Evaluation

1. IntroductionThe Legal English Workshop is a 12-year old professional training program aimed to help Spanish-speaking lawyers to improve their professional skills in the English language. Over the years, we have experienced a worldwide connection of legal systems across nations and a huge opportunity for legal professionals to participate on a global scale either in the public or the private sectors. Language and law endure an everlasting marriage. Grammar and semantics are the basis of law itself. And this course has been designed to study and practice the relationship between both phenomena.

a. Practical understanding and usage of English and Spanish GrammarDespite the fact that this is not a grammar course per se. We do encourage the practical study of the fundamentals of grammar in both languages. This workshop includes practical grammar presentations and exercises which will help participants refresh some relevant linguistic principles. Participants soon realize

2013 Mario Gonzlez-Hernndez


Chapter 1. Getting Started

that, just as legal systems may be compared, grammar systems are also the object of practical comparisons.

d. Use of tools and technologyTechnology has brought a tremendous revolution in education.

b. Accurate interpretation and application of legal concepts and termsThe collection of legal terms used and practiced by participants is very extensive. The Legal English Workshop includes activities for students to use and even form their own glossaries. This program does not intend to have participants memorize terms for academic purposes. We rather expect students to fully get involved the tasks and activities that produce the meaningful learning of legal terms and concepts. Long-time memory is the fruit of everyday practice as well as the use of critical-thinking.

We love and use technology in our workshop. The use of Internet is used in and out of the classroom. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop and/or a tablet to every single session. There are a three Internet tools that we will use throughout the program: Google Drive. It is very important to open a Gmail account in case you do not have one already. Canvas-Instruction. Most of the materials and activities are hosted in the Canvas-Instruction platform. We will send you an invitation to your Gmail account that will give you access to all of the tasks and activities of the program. Skype. This app is used for live online-instruction. The quality of the audio is just excellent if you have a reliable internet connection. Download Skype.

c. Insight on comparative law from dierent traditionsIt is no secret for lawyers that legal systems around the world come from dierent law traditions. The U.S. legal system inherited the Common Law principles from England whereas the Mexican legal system inherited the Civil Law principles from Rome. On the other hand, there are plenty of legal institutions that both countries share and that have preserved almost intact. Knowing a little of the history behind legal concepts may be very helpful in the accurate translation of terms. 2013 Mario Gonzlez-Hernndez

2. Preliminary EvaluationIn order for you to work on this rst activity, you must make sure that you have been granted authorization by your teacher to access the Legal English Workshop in Canvas.


Chapter 1. Getting Started

The evaluation is divided in 4 parts: 1. Legal Terminology, Translation & Listening Activities 2. Structure and Grammar Accuracy (Section I) 3. Grammar Accuracy (Section II) 4. Reading Activity Please click here to begin your evaluation in Module 1 within Canvas-Instruction.

2013 Mario Gonzlez-Hernndez


Chapter 2

Concepts, Terms and DenitionsThe marriage between law and language has no room for divorce. Therefore, a legal professional must become procient in the use of grammar and semantics in both languages.

Chapter 2

Concepts, Terms and DenitionsCONTENT 1. Introduction a. Concepts b. Terms c. Denition 2. Exercises 3. Resources

1. IntroductionThere are some words people use as if they were synonyms. This is the case of the words: concept, term and denition. Let us briey explain the dierence.

a. ConceptsHuman beings are intelligent beings. Not only are we the dominant species on this planet because of what we know, but also because of the fact that we know that we are able to know. In other words, we are sapiens sapiens. We all have the capacity to think in concepts. Concepts are metal representations that allow us to draw appropriate inferences about the type of entities we encounter in our everyday lives. Concepts are ideas. They exist even before there is a term or a denition for such an idea. Concepts are the mental substance of what we call knowledge. Legal concepts are dierent from legal terms and legal denitions. Legal concepts are those ideas, either simple or complex, that we have created to give ourselves a social structure and organization as well as sense of what is permitted and what is forbidden.

2013 Mario Gonzlez-Hernndez


Chapter 2. Concept, Terms and Denitions

b.TermsBesides being intelligent, we have the inner ability to communicate through symbols and spoken words. The most basic unit of our predominant way of communication is the word itself. Terms are words or compound words that mean something in specic contexts. Terms are names for those concepts we understand. Terms are nouns, verbs, adjectives and so many other concrete and abstract ideas that we have insider our heads. Legal terms are those specic names that we give to those simple and complex ideas related to law and the system we created around this multifaceted concept.



c. DenitionsUnfortunately, concepts and terms are not enough for us to eectively communicate. We may nd two or three terms for one concept and two or three concepts that share the same term. Denitions help us solve this problem. A denition is an attempt to accurately and briey explain a term or a concept. There are probably almost innite denitions for a single term or concept. Denitions can be accurate or inaccurate. Language, as a complex system itself, plays a very important role in determining the accuracy or inaccuracy of denitions. Legal denitions are sentences aimed to accurately explain a term or a concept within a legal context. 2013 Mario Gonzlez-Hernndez



Chapter 2. Concept, Terms and Denitions

2. ExercisesPlease go to our Canvas-Instruction platform and complete the Spanish-English Translation exercises provided therein. This activity will help you become familiar with over 150 basic legal expressions that we will be using throughout out program. There will also be a group discussion where all participants will be able to post questions to the class regarding legal terms dicult to translate.

3. ResourcesHere is a list of useful resources that you will nd within the second Module in Canvas-Instruction: A law dictionary An English-Spanish Glossary A couple of English-English Law Dictionaries

2013 Mario Gonzlez-Hernndez


Chapter 3

The Elements of the SentenceIn order to guarantee an accurate interpretation or expression of legal content, we most make sure that we understand how nite ideas are constructed. It is within the sentence where our critical-thinking truly begins.

Chapter 3

The Elements of the SentenceCONTENT 1. Basic Concepts a. Words b. Phrases c. Clauses d. Sentences 2. Activities

1. Basic ConceptsIt is convenient for us to review the following elements:

a. WordsWords are the basic element that may be expressed in isolation with semantic and pragmatic content. Words can be put together to build larger elements such as phrases, clauses or sentences. Words have sounds (phonetics), meanings (semantics) and even forms (morphology). We will talk about those in class. There are dierent types of words. In the English language, there are basically nine categories: Noun: any abstract or concrete entity; a person (police ocer,Michael),

place (coastline, London), thing (necktie, television), idea (happiness), or quality (bravery) Pronoun: any substitute for a noun or noun phrase Adjective: any qualier of a noun Verb: any action (walk), occurrence (happen), or state of being (be)

2013 Mario Gonzlez-Hernndez


Chapter 3. The Elements of the Sentence

Adverb: any qualier of an adjective, verb, clause, sentence, or other adverb Preposition: any establisher of relation and syntactic context Conjunction: any syntactic connector Interjection: any emotional greeting (or exclamation) Auxiliaries: words like do, did, will, shall.

Examples:Noun phrases (subject & object): Many people The president of the United States of America Income tax S