Skip to Content

English For Legal Studies

Program Description

The English for Legal Studies (ELS) program is a six-week intensive experience for students who have been accepted to a competitive US LLM or JD program beginning in the Fall. The content focuses on Legal English and the academic skills needed to succeed in a rigorous law school program. Participants learn about the American legal system and law school culture in order to prepare them for transition into law school in the fall. Participants also gain a wider understanding of the US university system, professor expectations, and student responsibilities.

ELS participants continue learning outside the classroom through unique community-based learning opportunities which provide insight into US culture and practice communicating with a diverse range of Americans.   

Classes meet approximately twenty hours per week, Monday through Friday. In addition to legal English classes, ELS students attend two general English for Academic Purposes courses in the ELI EAP program along with graduate students from other U-M schools: Interactive Speaking and Community-Based Language and Culture Practicum.

Small class size and student-teacher conferences provide participants with extensive individual attention. A certificate of completion is awarded to participants who fulfill all program requirements.

What You Will Experience

The program provides training in the skills you will need to succeed in law school. Classes are grounded in legal and academic texts. Activities include:

  • Writing assignments designed to help understand the characteristics of legal writing
  • Research assignments on legal issues which require database searches and analysis of cases and scholarly articles
  • Collaborative group projects
  • Pair, small-group, and seminar-style speaking activities on a range of academic and legal topics
  • Lecture comprehension and note-taking practice in recorded and live situations
  • Meetings with US lawyers and visits to local legal institutions
  • Informal English practice in required weekly Conversation Circles
  • Weekly volunteer work in local community organizations

What You Will Accomplish

Participating in the ELS program will help you become more confident using English in academic and legal contexts. Specifically, you will:

  • Improve your spoken and written English
  • Recognize the language of legal writing and case readings
  • Become familiar with legal text types
  • Write more effective legal summaries
  • Use various written organizational patterns
  • Become familiar with language and content typical in an LLM or JD program
  • Learn to read a large volume of legal texts more efficiently
  • Develop strategies to establish yourself as a member of the legal discourse community
  • Become more familiar with the US law school environment
  • Gain an understanding of the US legal system
  • Make friends and begin to build social and professional networks
  • Learn about the lives of local community residents

Program Structure

ELS is an intensive six-week language and culture program. It includes the following course components:

  • Writing for the Law
  • Academic Reading and Vocabulary
  • Law Lecture Comprehension and Notetaking
  • Legal Research Writing
  • Community-Based Language and Culture Practicum

IMPORTANT NOTE ON ATTENDANCE: Attendance at all class sessions, and active participation in all classroom activities, and the completion of homework assignments is mandatory for all students. Late arrivals and early departures from the program are not permitted. Any exceptions must be approved IN ADVANCE by the ELI Director and the appropriate U-M Admissions office.

Who Provides the Instruction

Instruction in the ELS program is provided by members of the English Language Institute’s distinguished faculty as well as practicing lawyers and other outstanding instructors from U-M and other institutions. All have advanced credentials and extensive experience teaching Legal English or English for Academic Purposes.

Language and Culture Beyond the Classroom: 
Engaging with the Community

The ELS program is committed to helping participants expand their use of English outside the classroom in a full range of professional and social settings so that they can fully participate in the life of a US university. The centerpiece of these efforts is a groundbreaking  Community-Based Language and Culture Practicum in which students practice English and learn about US culture through placements in local community organizations. A variety of social events are included in the summer schedule.

Preparing for Law School

The ELS program prepares you to hit the ground running in the competitive environment of a JD or LLM program. You will receive rigorous training in communicative speaking skills, academic legal writing, legal research writing, and dealing with the large volume of reading demanded in these programs. You will also learn about the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor, begin to build an academic and professional network, and start practicing the study skills you need to get the most out of the law school experience. You will also learn about US culture and how to communicate with a diverse range of Americans through innovative community-engaged learning activities.