StudyLegalEnglish.com interviews Stephen Horowitz (podcast)

StudyLegalEnglish.com recently published a podcast interview with me (“E81-LL.M. Legal Writing Tips with Stephen Horowitz“) conducted by Louise Kulbicki, the British-born, Italy-based founder of StudyLegalEnglish.com. It was my first time ever interviewed for a podcast, and it turned out to be a lot of fun!

Topics covered included:

  • Legal English LLM programmes for non-native speakers
  • Legal English writing challenges and tips
  • Using IRAC – Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion
  • Understanding categorization
  • Legal English resources

Impressively, Louise also created study materials to go with the interview. That is, she turned the interview itself into a teaching and self-study tool. She created a transcript, a lesson plan and a vocabulary list. Though you need to become a member to access the latter two.

Here’s the podcast version of E81-LL.M. Legal Writing Tips with Stephen Horowitz:

And here’s the video version of the podcast:

IRAC, mirroring and language control for LLM students in legal writing

“Lacks control of language” — This is one of those feedback comments that sounds incisive and succinct to us writing instructors but which, for non-native English speakers, is actually very subjective. It describes a writer who isn’t communicating her ideas in a clear or accurate manner.

In my writing work with LLM students, we work on the fundamentals of IRAC-style essays in the context of law school exams. And I work with my students on an idea we call “mirroring,” which means that certain key words from the Rule section need to also be present in the Analysis section. And those words then need to be equated with key facts to demonstrate that such facts do or do not meet the standard set by the Rule.

However, connecting rules and facts in one sentence frequently requires students to have the grammar to connect their ideas. Otherwise, the sentences come out as separate, seemingly disconnected statements. That is, they lack control of their writing. Also, when students lack confidence in their control of their writing, they often avoid the language they need to connect rule and facts, and the Analysis can end up just being a recitation of the facts followed by a leap to a conclusion. Continue reading