University of Miami: Unlocking the power of legal English
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University of Miami: Unlocking the power of legal English

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Adnan Alajaji was always “fascinated” by the legal system and intrigued by the idea of being the person in charge of ensuring justice for those who deserved it. He spent his youth cultivating the soft skills of critical thinking, analytical skills and attention to detail — all of which he knew was necessary to thrive in the field of law. Once he developed these competencies, he opted to pursue Judicial Studies locally as an undergraduate. However, he did not let his completion of the qualification mark the end of his academic journey.

Alajaji had yet to explore the topic of Alternative Dispute Resolution. And in the US, there was one university that not only would feed his intellectual curiosity, but also help him strengthen the English proficiency he lacked and needed to thrive in the “Land of Opportunity” — the University of Miami School of Law (Miami Law).

Adnan Alajaji. Source: Miami Law

“During my research on the LLM programme at Miami Law, I came across the Intensive Legal English programme,” he explains. “It stood out to me because it was specifically designed for international students who wanted to improve their legal English skills before starting their LLM programme. As a non-native English speaker, I knew that improving my legal English skills would be crucial for my success in law school and in my future career.”

This three-semester programme was specifically designed for students like Alajaji and its effectiveness has propelled it to the top. In fact, the Intensive Legal English + LLM is recognised by LLM-guide as one of the Top 10 programmes in the world.

It serves as a pathway into one of Miami Law’s several esteemed LLM programmes: Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law, International Arbitration, International Law, Maritime Law, Real Estate (Property) Development, Taxation, Taxation of Cross-Border Investment, as well as the US and Transnational Law LLM for Foreign-Trained Lawyers, and many of its JD/LLM Joint Degrees.

Alajaji took the International Arbitration route, which wasn’t hard to comprehend, thanks to the solid foundation he gained prior to starting. “The programme offered a comprehensive curriculum that covered all aspects of legal English, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening,” he explains. “It also provided opportunities to practise these skills through mock trials, negotiations, and other interactive activities.”

The fact that the programme was taught by experts helped, too. They helped Alajaji form a better understanding of the legal profession’s language and culture; as well as Miami Law’s multicultural student body. Students have come from all over the world to do the program including from Brazil, Colombia, France, Monaco, Russia, China, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and more.

Studying alongside international students who represented a range of nationalities helped him develop a broader understanding of the world and hone the competencies needed to thrive in an increasingly globalised world. After successfully completing the LLM program and graduating Alajaji moved back to Saudi Arabia where he is works as an in-house counsel lawyer at Aramco, one of the world’s largest energy companies.

Miami Law

Source: Miami Law

It goes without saying that the Intensive Legal English + LLM programme is an excellent choice for those whose first language is not English; however, it is also an apt choice for those who have already nailed the basics but have yet to grasp “legal English.” Take Erika Agosto’s story, for instance.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she attended a bilingual school since kindergarten. Despite already being called to her country’s bar, she knew that to be truly set apart from her competition in a highly-saturated field, she had to go a little further, specifically at a well-regarded institution like Miami Law.

“I knew English is not the same as legal English,” she explains. “This is why the Director of the LLM programme at that time recommended the Intensive Legal English course to fast-track my progression. I agreed it was a good idea — not only for the learning experience but also because it was my first time living outside Puerto Rico. This was going to be a great opportunity to meet people before starting the LLM and get to know Miami as well. It was the best decision of my life.”

With the legal writing and research skills Agosto gained during this period, there was truly no stopping her once it was time to begin her Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law LLM. Right off the bat, she could draft legal memoranda tailored to her American professors’ expectations. She was even able to conduct independent research and present her findings effectively.

Today, the graduate is working as an attorney in Cole, Scott and Kissane, PA, which is one of Florida’s largest, with over 13 locations and 600 attorneys. Overall, she focuses on business law, providing general counsel services and litigating cases on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants involving claims against businesses and professionals, partnership disputes, contractual disputes, directors and officer claims, employment disputes, discrimination charges, intellectual property disputes and condominium litigation.

“I am so grateful to Miami Law,” she says. “They truly helped me to be a better professional and gave me hands-on practical skills. Do I still use these skills? Of course. Everyday.”

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