LEAF: Legal English and Foundations

LEAF: Legal English and Foundations

Legal English and Foundations (LEAF) is a four-week intensive legal English program that improves international legal professionals' communication and academic skills before they begin their degree programs at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Designed by Northwestern Law, the LEAF program provides an opportunity for students to:

  • Use their language skills in legal contexts
  • Become familiar with the US law school classroom environment
  • Improve their spoken and written English
  • Expand their legal vocabulary
  • Gain background knowledge in the common law system
  • Build their social and professional networks
  • Acclimate to the city of Chicago before beginning their academic program


The LEAF curriculum is divided into three distinct course types:

  • Fundamental US Legal Topics: Survey courses in topics that are considered most useful for international students about to begin a program of study at the law school. Courses may include Contracts, Corporations, and Constitutional Law, among others.
  • Legal Skills and Methodology: Courses designed to develop essential lawyering skills and introduce students to using English in the practice of law. Courses may include Negotiation, Legal Reasoning, and How American Lawyers Write, among others.
  • Legal English: Intensive English courses tailored to the specific needs of law students and legal professionals. Courses may include Writing Techniques, Legal Vocabulary, and Oral Communication, among others.

Inside the Classroom

All courses are taught by either Northwestern Law professors or the Law School’s ESL specialist. In the LEAF classroom, students will:

  • Engage in classroom discussion and debate
  • Learn to read and understand terminology in cases and statutes
  • Explore efficient reading and processing strategies
  • Practice presentation skills
  • Learn the writing process as taught in US academic settings
  • Practice summarizing and paraphrasing complex legal concepts

Outside of the Classroom

Classes will be held at the Law School, taking full advantage of the amazing downtown lakefront location of Northwestern’s Chicago campus.  Through a combination of free guided co-curricular and extra-curricular excursions, students build camaraderie with their peers, integrate with JD students, and get to know the city during the best time of year. Previous trips have included:

  • Chicago architecture boat cruise
  • Visit to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Guided tour of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE)
  • Chicago neighborhood walking tours
  • And more!

LEAF students - Chicago River boat tour

Program Structure

Students are required to take all courses in the LEAF program and daily attendance is expected. More information about the course schedule and program specifics will be available at the beginning of July. Here is a sample schedule from one week of the LEAF program.

2023 Program Details

Dates: July 10-August 4, 2023

Cost: $3500

Disclaimer: The LEAF Program is only available to admitted Northwestern Law students. The last day to withdraw from the LEAF Program with a partial refund of $3000 is May 1st. After May 1st, the program tuition is non-refundable. 

Registration: Email International.Programs@law.northwestern.edu to receive a private registration link. Please note that payment is due at the time of registration and space in the program is available on a first come, first served basis.


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