Bond University


This article proposes an interdisciplinary, theoretically informed approach to literacy and language skills in legal education. Both of the authors are legal scholars and law teachers with backgrounds in English studies and literary theory, and we bring these perspectives to bear on the perennial problem of introducing both developmental and remedial language tuition into law schools. The article is informed by a model of language and literacy which views written legal communication skills as the acquisition of competence in, and initiation into, the codes of a culture of specialist discursive practices. That is, it holds that law is made in its languages, rather than that law is a concrete given which language merely describes or articulates, and it views literacy critically and contextually, rather than as a virtue measured against a fixed and objective standard. The article proceeds from a synthesis of recent scholarship from a number of disciplines, including professional studies, sociology, education, teaching English as a second language, linguistics and, of course, law.