English for Lawyers
ILSP Student with his EFL Certificate

English for Lawyers is a content-based non-credit second language learning course.  The course promotes advanced language proficiency and communication through legal content, developing work and study skills necessary for international lawyers.  ILSP students learn to demonstrate: 1) cognitive academic language proficiency in a U.S. academic legal context, and 2) professional presentation when speaking as a lawyer using English as a second or third language. 

With the growing importance of Legal English in the international practice of law, this class helps to prepare our students for the global legal workplace.

English for Lawyers supports and is taught in conjunction with American Legal Institutions: Legal Research & Writing. The courses share the same content base and complement each other with mutually coordinated written assignments.  English for Lawyers impacts student writing on three levels: sentence, paragraph, organization.

Requirements to Receive a Passing Grade

Successful completion of the English for Lawyers course requires full attendance, punctuality, and timely production of all oral and written assignments.

Legal English Certificates are awarded upon successful completion of the program.

Special focus is given to clear and accurate expression, as well as effective style:

Correct Grammar, Subordination, Paraphrasing, English Sentences, Proper Mechanics, Terms of Art, Coordination, and Revising

Clarity (coherence), Unity and Flow (signals, cohesion). Parallel Structure, Concision (structure), Emphasis: sentence level, List Structure, Precision, Emphasis: paragraph level, Tabulation, Critical Thinking, Logical relationships (transitions), Editing: form and content


Donna Bain Butler

Donna Butler is an Adjunct Professor-Researcher in English for Academic Legal Purposes at American University’s Washington College of Law, International Legal Studies Program (7 years). She is also a Ph.D. Candidate in Second Language Education & Culture at the University of Maryland College Park specializing in international legal discourse. A native of Montreal, Donna has had professional experience working in 3 different French based cultures before emigrating to the U.S. from Canada 10 years ago. Other U.S. experience includes work as an English oral proficiency tester with the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Language Services Unit (1998-2004), and work as an advisor with the American Councils for International Education for a legal English fellow from Russia in the Junior Faculty Development Program (2002-2003). Donna is co-editor of Teaching and Learning to Near-Native Levels of Language Proficiency III: Proceedings of the Fall 2005 Conference of the Coalition of Distinguished Language Centers.

Marleen Hein-Dunne

Marleen Hein-Dunne is an Adjunct Professor, teaching English for Lawyers at the Washington College of Law at American University.  In addition, Ms. Hein-Dunne has taught College Writing courses in the Literature Department and Research Writing to international students at American University.  Prior to coming to American University, Ms. Hein-Dunne designed and taught a Writing Course for international graduate students in Georgetown University’s Department of Linguistics.  Ms. Hein-Dunne has extensive international experience.  She taught classes in American Literature and Writing for Master’s Candidates as a lecturer at the University of Bonn, Germany.  She also designed and taught an intensive course on English to German lawyers and corporate executives at the Carl Duisberg Foundation, Cologne, Germany.  Ms. Hein-Dunne received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA from Columbia University, her TESOL Certificate from Georgetown University and a Diplôme from the University of Nice, France.


EFL Students

Legal English Class with Professors Donna Bain-Butler, and Marleen Hein-Dunne