I’m a Russian lawyer with many years of experience working in international firms and using legal English as a lawyer in Moscow, Russia. Here I share my tips for studying legal English.
1. You are studying legal English and not English law
I think it is important to note that studying legal English is not studying English law, but the former can help you to understand the latter. It can also help you to understand English lawyers and legal documents drafted by them, to explain your own law to English lawyers in a way they could understand, because learning English legal terms is an inevitable part of studying legal English.
2. You don’t need to learn everything
Legal English is a vast topic – there are laws on every subject imaginable. However, this doesn’t mean it is necessary or even possible for you to be an expert in all areas. I think you should prioritise your learning and only focus on legal English terms that are commonly used and useful for your work. Also, you only need to know the terms to the extent that you can understand in general what your counterpart – an English lawyer, is talking about and know the equivalent in your own language.
3. Studying legal English is full of surprises
Sometimes studying legal English gives you unexpected benefits. Here is an example from my experience. Russian law didn’t have such terms as ‘warranties & representations’ and ‘indemnity’. But in 2015 the Russian government decided that Russia would be more attractive for foreign investors if Russian law was as close to English law as possible. I personally think that Russian law could be more attractive for foreign businesses and investors if, firstly, the Russian judiciary was more effective, unbiased, less corrupt and politically motivated, and secondly, if Russian law was not changed substantially a few times per year. But it’s a point for another blog!
Anyway, since 2015 Russian law has recognised warranties (a mix of English law warranties & representations) and indemnity. I am sure that for the vast majority of Russian lawyers it was much more difficult to comprehend these new terms, but it wasn’t for me because I had read a lot about those terms of English law while studying legal English. So you see – studying legal English is full of surprises!
Stay tuned for my next blog post coming soon!