The centre where you can learn legal English - with a lawyer
27 June 2016

It's not unusual for language centres to offer specialist English courses for lawyers. But it is more unusual to have a qualified solicitor, who has also taught in one of the UK's leading centres for trainee lawyers, running the courses.

That's exactly what Caroline Browne does at English UK member Severnvale Academy in Shrewsbury. 

As principal of the centre, she runs several legal English courses, aimed at students, para-legals, in-house lawyers and other professionals, and offers the specialist TOLES qualification.

She says her background makes it "a unique offering" as she combines her legal training and knowledge with English teaching, and runs her courses in a way which reflects how lawyers are expected to work. 

"What makes us different is my background," she says. "I can speak knowledgeably about being in practice, and I understand the pressure the students face in terms of timescales, the house they do and the types of documentation they have to turn around in a short space of time. I also understand, having worked for an international law firm, how important it is to have really good English skills. We've had a lot of students from law firms and a lot of in-house lawyers as well."

Ms Browne, who is Principal of Severnvale, practised as a London City solicitor for four years before teaching law at specialist university BPP. When she and her partner took over Severnvale, they saw the opportunity for her to combine her legal teaching with that of English. The centre has a partnership with Elsa, the European Law Students' Association.

She says accurate English is vital for lawyers, and particularly when it comes to drafting contracts or documents. "They can be quite strong in speaking and it can be the written side they want to work on… we make sure they're really up to speed with terminology and turns of phrases, and how things work in practice." 

She says Severnvale offers the TOLES qualification because it is in demand by employers and focuses on drafting skills and the demands of the job than more general exams like the CAE, which will become even more pertinent when the Cambridge ILEC is discontinued in December 2016."We feel it offers more employability for lawyers and it makes you highly employable," she says. 

Severnvale recommends taking the TOLES as a three-week course. Ms Browne says it is intense "but lawyers are used to that." 

Is your centre running new and different courses? Tell us on Twitter #interestingEnglish or by emailing Sue Young, our communications consultant.

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