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English for Legal Purposes

Since 2001, the English Language Center (ELC) has been providing Legal-English support to students at the Vanderbilt University Law School. In 2005, the ELC created the intensive Summer English for Legal Purposes (SELP) Program for LL.M. students to further promote the development of high-level language skills and cultural knowledge in this academic context. The aim of these support programs is to help students achieve their academic goals and relieve some of the stress and anxiety that comes from performing in English in a highly competitive academic setting.

Summer English for Legal Purposes (SELP) Program

LL.M. Students with Tennessee Governor Bredesen.
LL.M. Students with Tennessee Governor Bredesen.

This intensive 80-hour program is designed to provide incoming LL.M. students with the language and academic skills needed to succeed in the demanding LL.M. program at the Vanderbilt University Law School.

  • Twenty hours per week, for four weeks, of intensive in-class instruction and additional hours for individual assistance as needed by participants
  • The fundamentals of an LL.M.: learn what to expect from Vanderbilt’s LL.M. program
  • Oral and written communication development, including presentations, small-group and large-group discussion and responses
  • Visit to Tennessee court/local venue to examine the United States legal system and discuss real-world application of legal practice with judges and law practitioners

Program Objectives:

  • Adapt more quickly to the US law school curriculum
  • Increase ability to listen to short lectures and take effective notes
  • Gain higher level of self confidence in public speaking and interacting in the classroom
  • Augment legal/academic vocabulary in writing and speaking
  • Increase ability to brief cases
  • Increase ability to summarize and paraphrase case elements
  • Improve clarity, correctness, and conciseness in legal exercises and exam writing
  • Gain higher degree of grammatical accuracy
  • Improve use of articles, prepositions, verb tenses in written and spoken language
  • Understand how to read like a legal professional
  • Become acquainted with American culture and American legal culture
LL.M. Students at the Chancery Court in Downtown Nashville.
LL.M. Students at the Chancery Court in Downtown Nashville.

Important Dates:

  • Dates: Monday, July 13 - Friday, August 7, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday


  • Enrollment is restricted to Vanderbilt LL.M. Students
  • Contact Cynthia Coleman, Director, LL.M. Admissions to enroll in the Summer English for Legal Purposes (SELP) program
  • Tuition: $2,000. Tuition will be billed to your Vanderbilt student account. Enrollment deadline is 5:00 p.m. CST on Thursday, June 27.
  • Enrollment and withdrawal policy: After Summer English for Legal Purposes begins, if students withdraw by 5:00 p.m. on Day 2 of the program, they will be issued a 90% refund. There will be no refund for withdrawing after 5:00 p.m. on Day 2 of the program.

Academic English for LL.M. Students

Academic English for LL.M. students is a series of courses for students admitted into the Vanderbilt University Law School LL.M. Program. Courses are designed to assist students who have a first language other than English in their careers by increasing proficiency and confidence in various types of written legal discourse. Among other activities, students summarize articles, discuss current legal events, and practice the generally accepted conventions of written legal analysis in the United States. A Certificate of Completion from the English Language Center is available upon completion of the Summer English for Legal Purposes (SELP) program, Academic Writing for LL.Ms, and Academic Speaking for LL.Ms.

Academic Writing for LL.M. Students:

  • Fall semester only: Academic Writing for LL.M. students is offered exclusively to Vanderbilt University Law School students enrolled in the Master of Laws program. The course focuses on the structures and conventions of academic writing in general and legal writing in particular. Course activities support LL.M. students’ work in their required Legal Research and Writing course and emphasize correct, concise, complete and clear written discourse.

Academic Speaking for LL.M. Students:

  • Spring semester only: Academic Speaking for LL.M. students is offered to Vanderbilt Master of Laws students who wish to improve their public speaking and pronunciation skills in English and broaden their American-culture knowledge base as well. Students give both prepared and impromptu presentations, read and discuss topics in US news, and work on the sounds and intonation of American English.


  • All interested Vanderbilt LL.M. students should contact Cynthia Coleman, Associate Director of Law School Admissions and International Services to enroll in semester LL.M. courses.

In the Media


For more information regarding course content, please contact:

Jim Cracraft, Assistant Director
Tel: +1 615-322-2277

For more information regarding eligibility content, please contact:

Susan M. Barone, Director
Tel: +1 615-322-2277