Legal English: Legal English, referred to as lawspeak or legalese, is described as the style of English used by lawyers and other legal professionals in the legal field and industry. It is used to write legal drafting, contracts and texts. More specifically these include: a) legal documents such as contracts, licences, deeds, etc., b) laws such as court case reports, Acts of legislation, c) court judgments and briefs and d) legal
correspondence. Although in the past Legal English was exclusively used by lawyers from English-speaking countries with a shared common-law practice, today due to the spread of English as the language of trade and commerce, legal English is a global phenomenon used by lawyers from many different countries.

Legal English has its own style with a particular emphasis on the usage of certain words. Modern English vocabulary uses terms deriving from Germanic languages (original roots of English), Latin (due to the Roman conquest of Britain that started effectively in AD 43) or French (due to the Norman-French Conquest of England in 1066). Legal English makes heavy use of many Latin and French terms that are not
comprehensible for laypeople.



  • To understand legal English vocabulary.
  • To read and understand the legal texts.
  • To write legal drafts.

Target groups:

  • All lawyers who work in a legal enviornment


  • Legal English vocabulary: Business law, consumer rights, contracts, corporate responsibility, court orders and injunctions, dispute resolution, employment laws, data protection, property,punishments and penalties,
  • Doublets, triplets,
  • Use of pronominal adverbs,
  • Use of specific phrasal verbs,
  • Writing legal texts,
  • Preparation for ILEC  (International Legal English Certificate) and TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills).


  • Continuous training once a week per group,
  • 1-day seminar for different Legal English topics.

Number of participants:

  • 5-8


  • Upon request


  • Lecture, discussions, exercises

We include and cover the following topics in Legal English training:

a) Technical and specialized vocabulary: Legal English uses a subset of technical vocabulary such as ab initio, actus reus, affidavit, arbitration, balance of probabilities, bona vacantia, burden of proof, consensus ad idem, contentious work, conveyancee, de jure, deed, disposition, doli incapax, estate pur autre vie, ex gratia, formation, grantee, grantor, habeas corpus, hearing, inflagrante delicto, injunction, in rem, jurisprudence, leasehold, litigation, locus standi, mediation, mens rea, negligent, non compos mentis, pari passu, per curiam, quid pro quo, res judicata, tort, ratify, remedy, settlement, tort, tortfeasor, trespass, uberrimae fidei, ultra vires.

b) Doublets: As there are synonoms that share the same meaning in different groups, different English words appear in different registers. Legal English makes heavy uses of Latin and French words, resulting in a formal style of English. This is due to the fact that during the medieval period, lawyers used a mixture of Latin, French and English words. One of the results of these linguistic interferences is the use of pairs of words that derive from these three different sets of languages. This was originally used by lawyers to avoid misunderstandings and ambiguity, but these have become an integral part of Legal English and a stylistic habit resulting in a formal language which is hard to understand by laypeople. Some of these doublets which are called couplets and pairs as well are:

a) Combinations of English and Latin such as "of sound mind and memory", "will and testament",

b) Combinations of English and French such as "aid and abet", "lands and tenements",

c) Combinations of French and Latin such as "final and conclusive", "save and except",

d) Combinations of English and English such as "let and hindrance", "have and hold".

3) Use of pronominal adverbs: One of the characteristics of legal English is its extensive use of pronominal adverbs such as aforementioned, hereafter, hereby, herein, hereinafter, hereof, hereto, heretofore, hereunder, herewith, thereafter, therein, thereinafter, thereinbefore.

4) Use of specific phrasal verbs: Legal English uses a number of specific phrasal verbs that have their own meanings in this context such as to bail out, to hold out, to hold over, to mark up, to prove up, to put in, to set down, to set aside, to set out, to settle up, to sue out, to write out.

Legal texts are sometimes marked by a lack of punctuation and unusual word order (possibly due to French grammatical structures). But to write Legal English well, one needs to be able to write good English and master all specific vocabulary and terms.

© M.Khorasani Consulting