What do former students have to say about LEAF?

 The LEAF program was a good preparation for my LLM study. I found it helpful not only because of its accessible introductory law classes, but also because of the intensive English training, where I had more chances for interaction with professors and other students. This program also provided me a good opportunity to familiarize myself with the campus, professors, classes, and remarkable peer students and to enjoy the gorgeous city of Chicago before the intensive fall semester. The trips for the architectural boat tour, Art Institute of Chicago and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals were awesome.”

Guangjun Tang
LLM Class of 2014


I found LEAF an engaging and highly efficient program. It gives an overview of the American Legal system, which I believe was beneficial for me later on. For example, a brief intro to Civil Procedure helped me to feel more confident in my Contracts class in the LLM course. Legal writing and grammar classes were most helpful to me as a foreign lawyer prior the LLM program. Most importantly, LEAF is a fun time to spend the summer with colleagues from all over the world in lovely Chicago.”

Ekaterina Bolshakova
LLM Class of 2014

I think the LEAF is quite useful. First, the dedicated writing training covered a lot of skills and accepted numerous drafts of revisions. Plus the one-to-one writing coaching helps to get rid of unprofessional writing habits. Second, LEAF gives students time to get used to the new environment and to law school study. Through LEAF students meet excellent professors who work in several important areas of law, which made me get used to law school study and helped me to select courses and professors for the fall semester. Finally, the guided outside activities like the free Chicago River and Art Institute tours helped me to mingle with new classmates and to enjoy Chicago’s charming environment.”

Wei Wang
LLM Class of 2014

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 20, 2015 to Friday, August 14, 2015
Cost: $3,500.00
Disclaimer: The LEAF Program is only available to admitted Northwestern Law School students.
Registration: 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.

The last day to withdraw from the program with a full tuition refund is April 30th. After April 30th, the program fee is non-refundable.

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