International Legal Practice and Language (ILPL)

Make the world your oyster!

Legal practice is no longer a national matter; rather, it takes place in a multinational, multicultural and multilingual environment. Law students are well advised to prepare themselves for these challenges of professional life as early as possible. To some extent, this requires knowledge of international and European law, foreign law and conflict of laws. However, it also presupposes a high degree of proficiency in the English language—general as well as legal, oral as well as written—because English has evolved as the only language universally understood in the legal sphere.
International Legal Practice and Language (ILPL) is a Wahlfachkorb, i.e. Basket of Electives (BoE), offered by the Vienna University law faculty and seeks to provide students with basic knowledge and skills which are essential in the contemporary professional environment. ILPL can be completed within two semesters.

Learning aims and outcomes

Students will have to take a two-semester Legal English programme, equipping them with a wide range of legal terms, making them familiar with how these terms are used in context and, at the same time, enhancing their general level of language proficiency (Core A Electives). In addition, students will have to take part in at least one moot court, interpersonal skills seminar, drafting workshop or similar unit, allowing students to use legal language more actively in oral and/or written form and to exercise their language-related transferable skills (Core B Electives). A wide range of electives on particular legal subjects, which are taught in English, will provide students with further opportunity to enhance their command of terminology and patterns of legal reasoning in contexts of their choice (Special Subject Electives).
Within the two-semester Legal English programme, students can choose between a more U.S.-oriented language course developed and taught for two decades by MMag. Franz Heidinger, LL.M. (Virginia), Attorney at Law and Certified Interpreter for the English language, and the ILEC training programme developed by Cambridge University and taught by David Goulden, M.A., LL.B. (Cambridge), a qualified Barrister with several years' experience preparing students for the ILEC (International Legal English Certificate), and Susan Ambler Smith, an American-born Austrian lawyer and certified translator. The ILEC exam, which is the most widely recognised qualification in the field, does not form part of the BoE itself, but students are encouraged to take the exam at one of the official ESOL exam centres, e.g. the British Council Vienna.

Target audience

An obvious target audience for this BoE is students planning a career in an international organisation, an international law firm or in a company with business interests abroad. Proficiency in legal English, both oral and written, is also indispensable for any academic career. Indeed, virtually any professional environment now requires a basic knowledge of international legal language. Therefore, all law students are encouraged to take part in at least some of the courses, irrespective of whether they plan to complete the whole BoE or not.

Dual credit

Credit points and semester hours accumulated for the purpose of completing ILPL may also count for the completion of other BoEs, e.g. for Internationales Privatwirtschaftsrecht und Rechtsvergleichung or for Recht der internationalen Beziehungen, and vice versa.