Outside the legal profession, “writing like a lawyer” is assumed to mean producing convoluted
prose impenetrable to all but initiates. Inside the profession, however, a strong effort has been
made to create well-designed writing courses for first-year law students that address the
undeniable existence of poor “exemplars” which taint law students’ perceptions about how to
write well. Such courses try to answer the related questions of what constitutes good legal
English writing and how it can best be learned. These two questions became important to me
when I was asked in 1999 to create a legal English course for 22 first-year law students at a new
university in Tanzania. This Third World setting and a class of non-Native English speakers cast
into high relief the importance of finding appropriate answers. This paper describes the course I
first designed in 1999, examines what recent ESP/EAP scholarship suggests would improve
legal-English-writing instruction for students in such a setting, and describes the workbook-style
textbook I am now writing for the Iringa University (Tanzania) course in legal English.
1 online resource (PDF, 54 pages). Submitted May, 2003 as a Plan B paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master's degree in English as a Second Language from the University of Minnesota.
Harris, Sally Sponsel.
"Writing like a lawyer": teaching legal English in a Tanzanian setting.
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