to international attorneys
who use English as a second language
Your clients hire you to reduce their risk—not to increase it. Yet your firm can increase its clients’ risk by sending out documents written in Legal English without first having those documents adequately reviewed by a mother-tongue speaker of English. The risks are lower when your clients’ interests are not at issue, but the same basic principle applies, for example, when the Legal English appears in a scholarly book or article.
The realities of second-language acquisition mean that English written as a second language often sounds like English written as a second language. Sometimes no article modifies a noun when an article is necessary. Sometimes an indefinite article modifies a noun when the context requires a definite article—and vice versa. Sometimes a verb disagrees in number with a third-person singular noun or pronoun. Sometimes what the writer intended as an idiomatic expression is incomprehensible—or even unintentionally humorous—to mother-tongue readers.
These are some of the more common errors in ESL English, and they can be major distractions for readers. Even relatively minor errors such as misspelled words, though, can occur so frequently that readers can start to doubt the writing attorney’s judgment.
In law, the stakes are too high for international lawyers to accept such errors in their firms’ ESL Legal English. Of course, going beyond grammatical and typographical errors, the numerous abstract legal concepts in ESL Legal English can increase the risks associated with inadequately reviewed ESL Legal English even more.
Effective editing of ESL Legal English is not a luxury. It is a necessity if international lawyers are to fully protect and promote their clients’ interests in documents written in ESL Legal English.
If your international law firm is not satisfied with its ESL Legal English, then perhaps Waggoner Legal English, LLC can help your attorneys improve in that essential area of your firm’s work.
Waggoner Legal English, LLC is a natural extension of my background as an experienced writer/editor/writing teacher and as an experienced American (Indiana) attorney. English is my mother tongue. In the short term, Waggoner Legal English, LLC can provide support for your firm by editing documents written in Legal English by ESL attorneys (without direct contact with your firm’s clients and always under the direction and supervision of attorneys in your firm). In the long term, your ESL attorneys should improve their written Legal English because they will be learning to write well in English while we work together to improve the Legal English in their documents. Waggoner Legal English, LLC’s classes on writing Legal English give your firm’s ESL attorneys a safe place to pursue that educational purpose even further.
This site is also the home of The Englished Advocate™, a blog on Legal English. The blog gives us a valuable place to think about, discuss, and do the hard work of improving ESL Legal English. It also gives you a convenient way to sample my company’s work in legal editing and in the teaching of writing Legal English before you engage Waggoner Legal English, LLC to provide services in either of those areas.
The rest of this site will give you a better idea of what Waggoner Legal English, LLC can do to help improve your firm’s ESL Legal English. Review that information at your leisure. Then call me or send me an email so that we can discuss how Waggoner Legal English, LLC can help your firm produce Legal English at a level that your clients expect and deserve.