LEAF: Legal English and Foundations

Legal English and Foundations (LEAF) is a four-week intensive legal English program that improves international legal professionals' legal communication and academic skills, with an emphasis on the ability to read and understand terminology in cases and statutes and understand and engage in discussion of legal issues.


Developed by Northwestern Law, the Legal English and Foundations curriculum is divided into two distinct areas:  reading and discussion courses and writing and rhetoric instruction.  The reading and discussion courses survey five first-year and two second-year law school courses that are considered most useful for international students about to begin an LLM program. In recent years, students have taken courses such as:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • Torts
  • Contracts
  • Negotiations
  • Legal Ethics
  • Corporations Law
  • Entrepreneurship Law

Consistent with the program's emphasis on reading and speaking, class time is spent on both small and large group discussion, guided by the professor but with students encouraged and empowered to lead and provoke small-scale and classroom-wide legal debates. All reading and discussion courses are taught by Northwestern University School of Law professors, who are experienced teachers of legal substance and of learners for whom English is a second language.

The other major component of the curriculum is writing and rhetoric instruction. Featuring frequent short writing exercises about topical legal subjects and written feedback, the writing and rhetoric course enables students to write about legal issues more accurately, concisely, grammatically, and persuasively, in the rhetorical modes appropriate to legal practice.  Extra emphasis is placed on the writing process as it is taught in U.S. schools, from outlining to paragraph development and longer essays.  Writing and rhetoric courses are taught by the school’s ESL specialist and include speaking and writing diagnostic assessments.

A required emphasis on vocabulary overlays all courses. Students are challenged to master essential legal terminology and a Word List developed by one of the former Legal English and Foundations professor of the 475 advanced English words especially common in first-year legal academic reading materials.

The LEAF Program has a set curriculum and students are required to take all pre-selected courses. More information about the course schedule and program specifics will be available at the beginning of the summer.

Summer in Chicago

Classes will be held on the Chicago Campus at the School of Law, taking full advantage of the amazing downtown lakefront location of the Law School’s Chicago campus.  Easy access to the city’s many beaches gives students a great opportunity to enjoy the season. LEAF also includes a number of free trips guided by JD students, such as a Chicago River Boat Tour and guided tours of the Art Institute, Federal Reserve Bank, and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Summer is a great time to explore all of the many activities the city has to offer.

Program Details

Dates: Monday, July 17, 2017 to Friday, August 11, 2017
Cost: $3,500.00
Disclaimer: The LEAF Program is only available to admitted Northwestern Law School students.
Registration: Registration for the 2016 LEAF Program is now open. Enrollment for the LEAF Program will take place online at the LEAF Registration Website. Please note that payment is due at the time of registration. To find out how to register for the program, please e-mail: International.Programs@law.northwestern.edu.

The last day to withdraw from the program with a partial refund of $3000 is May 1st. After May 1st, the program tuition is non-refundable.

For more information or questions, please e-mail: International.Programs@law.northwestern.edu.