Legal Writing – A company is an “it”

One of the easy-to-fix yet key issues I have seen in legal writing, both by native English speakers and Turkish lawyers, is referring to a company as “they.”  It is something we commonly do as we speak English even though it is incorrect. Referring to a company as “they” should definitely not be done in legal writing.  In fact, it should not be done in Business English of General English practice.

When speaking or writing about a company, consider these:

They – It

Their – Its

Theirself – Itself

Megan E. Boyd hosts a fabulous blog on legal writing, Lady (Legal) Writer, and discusses this issue in more detail.  Check out her post, A Company is an “It.”



English Language Contracts in China

Are you considering whether you should write an English language contract for a Chinese client or hire a Chinese attorney to do it?

There are a few basic things you should know before making that decision.  Does a contract in China require a dual format or is English is enough.  Does the “legalese” translate easily?  What are the hot-button provisions?

I am no expert in this area, but I came across a fabulous “bLAWg” that addresses these issues.  Take a look at Using English-Language Contracts in China: My Q&A with China Law Blog by Adams on Contract Drafting for more information.  Ken Adams does a great job of addressing these initial questions.


Intellectual Property and Web Copyright Infringement – Legal English!


No one loves the internet more than me.  Of course, I also LOVE the law and teaching English!  So let’s have a little fun with this excerpt from an article by Jonathon Bick entitled, Web Copyright Infringement: An Emerging White Collar Crime.  (Published December 30, 2014 in Corporate Counsel).  Just click the links in the below paragraphs for definitions.

Both whitecollar criminal prosecution and civil remedies thwart the unauthorized use of copyrighted material. Traditionally, injunctions and damages are more commonly used than criminal prosecution to frustrate infringements. However, the increasing use of the Internet for infringement activities makes criminal sanctions a better deterrent than traditional civil actions, thus Internet copyright infringement is emerging as a whitecollar crime.

Do you have any questions?  Comment on this post or send us an email at

The Players: Who are the People in the Courtroom? – Part 1

When I teach English to Lawyers, one of the first requests I always get is to review who the people are in a courtroom scenario. If you ever watch legal TV shows, you may already know most of the players.  Frankly, in the legal system, there are a lot of participants.  So learning the English names of these people is sometimes difficult because sometimes they are more advanced English terms due to the fact that their participation in the legal system is a little more complicated.  For example, in order to teach who an Appellant is requires some knowledge (by the instructor) of what the appeal system is.  It becomes even more complicated when we discuss the parties in pleadings like the Cross-Complaint.

If you are a beginner to Legal English, I have found a great webpage for you.  The page lists the basic parties to a law suit and the participants in the Court.  It provides a short vocabulary list with definitions, a vocabulary review (fill-in the blanks in a paragraph), and definitions for additional relevant terms.

So, if you are looking for practical definitions and usage of terms like:  defendant, prosecutor, jury, or deliberate, go ahead and click the link!  Learn the legal vocabulary and take the quiz!!