Giving international lawyers an English language edge
A Country Duham-based international legal training specialist has reached the notable milestone of opening its 350th centre.
Birtley-based TOLES Legal operates training centres around the globe and develops English-language training materials with input from experienced, English-speaking, commercial lawyers. The company, based in Cambridge and the North East of England, runs a structured development programme for international lawyers of various ability and experience, supported by three levels of professional exams which help students attain the required standard of legal English to work in the industry.
Now TOLES – shorthand for Test of Legal English Skills – has marked its rapid expansion with the opening of its 350th centre in Florence, Italy.
Jane Gelder, who runs the TOLES Florence centre, says: “TOLES gives lawyers enormous potential in terms of work prospects. In Europe there are so many lawyers looking for work. In Tuscany alone, there are approximately 100,000 lawyers and in Florence the ratio is one lawyer every 195 inhabitants. In this competitive environment, the ones with a good grasp of the English language and who are confident in Legal English will have a better opportunity to secure clients with international commercial enterprises.
“TOLES gives lawyers the best chance of achieving this by, for example, helping them to interpret commercial contracts and write letters of advice in a clear and organised way. In this context, TOLES is a useful business development tool for lawyers who want to get ahead of the competition in a crowded marketplace.”
Many TOLES training centres are based within the language schools of universities in the UK and overseas. A member of International Division of the Law Society of England and Wales, TOLES has taught students from respected law firms, the European Central Bank and other large companies including PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Sony Ericsson and Siemens. The TOLES learning programme aims to disrupt the market by bringing a radically different approach to legal training, one which emphasises the need for a minimum standard of competency in legal English language so that lawyers can complete essential tasks in the field of commercial law.
Catherine Mason, director of TOLES, said: “Law firms have told us that international law graduates holding a wide variety of English language certificates lack the level of English required to carry out essential legal tasks. TOLES materials and exams were developed in 2000 as a direct solution to this problem.
“In an increasingly competitive marketplace, it has never been more important for practising lawyers to have a good grasp of English so they can negotiate, interpret and explain commercial contractual agreements. Those who don’t will find it difficult to find work.”