Dmitry’s Tips: Why You Should Use Your Hobby To Study Legal English

Legal English Television Series
Legal English cinema
Legal English on TV

1. Why Your Hobby Can Help You Gain The Right Attitude

There is a piece of well-known advice for those who are thinking of starting their own business and don’t know what kind of business is right for them: think of what you like to do (what your hobby is) and make it your business. The reason for this is that an ordinary person has a completely different approach and attitude to what s/he wants to do and what s/he has to do.

Here is another example from my own experience: My hobby is fishing. A long time ago I noticed that it was much easier for me to get up at 4 or 5 am for fishing rather than at 7 am for going to school. I remember specifically 1986 when there was a world football cup in Mexico and due to time zone differences many games were going on over night in my local time. It was summer and often instead of going to bed I watched a football game on TV up until 4 am and then at 6 am went fishing, and I never felt any signs of sleep deprivation! Just guess how I felt when I didn’t sleep over night and had to get up early for going to school! What I am saying is that if your business is your hobby, you approach the business as your hobby as well which means that you enjoy what you do and because of this you can achieve much more in your business-hobby.

2. How Your Hobby Can Help You Study Legal English

The same rule I mentioned above applies to studying English in general and legal English. Therefore, if you enjoy watching English court/legal movies and series, you really should use your hobby for studying legal English.

I like contemporary English legal movies and series and hate those made 30 or more years ago, specifically those based on stories written by Agatha Christie. The ones I watch are not solely focused on law and/or lawyers, and I understand why: because otherwise it would be extremely boring… even for lawyers! Some of them are more focused on what is going on in court rooms/police stations, what lawyers/detectives/judges job is, some of them less, but as well as this they are focused on themes relevant to everybody – about love, hate, friendship and other issues that concern ordinary people.

3. Why I Like Judge John Deed

For a start I would like to recommend you a court drama – Judge John Deed – a series made by the BBC in 2001-2007, and its pilot episode of the first season called ‘Exacting Justice’. Why I think this court drama is good for a start is that, firstly, it is made by the BBC and the vast majority of its characters speak BBC English, secondly, more than 50% of its time is related to legal English: as you might predict  (because the main character is a judge) there are lots of court hearings, conversations between judges, barristers, solicitors, detectives, and thirdly, most of the actors and actresses play their characters extremely well.

As I already mentioned, the main character of this court drama is a judge – John Deed, played by Martin Shaw. He delivers justice in quite a specific manner. His interpretation of law often surprises or even disappoints his colleagues. Some of them (like a father of his ex-wife – a judge of the Appeal Court) think he does not respect the law and does not deserve to be a judge. For example, in the pilot episode he lets the jury change their verdict and over the course of the series he has no problem at all with having his fiance Jo Mills QC (Queen’s Counsel) representing claimants or defendants in court cases he tries. But if you look carefully at his approach to law you will find out that judge Deed respects the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law.

In my next blog post I’ll talk about the pilot episode of Judge John Deed with some explanations of some of the legal English used in the show.