What is Legal English?

It’s a term that’s frequently bandied around, but what does the term legal English mean, how is it different from other forms of the language – and why does it need to be considered a separate entity?

The reality is, as you will know if you have had any dealings with the law, that the language trained professionals from barristers and solicitors to legal secretaries use is simply not the same as regular business English.

It’s also important to understand that Latin and French were both commonly used before English became the official tongue of the legal profession back in the 1600s. The legacy from that was a substantial number of Latin and French words.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just learn this vocabulary and be competent in English for lawyers, since the style of writing also often dates back to these earliest origins too. Not only can sentences be lengthy but they are packed with complex grammatical structures, not used in other types of communication.

There are other considerations, too. You also have to take into account the different degrees of formality to use to communicate with different audiences, and the need for documents to be legally watertight so there’s room for only one interpretation.

When you consider all this, it’s perhaps not surprising that there are specific exams and qualifications in the discipline of legal English. If you’re looking for a provider, make sure they are legally qualified as well as being qualified in training, and can provide sound credentials.

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