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How will a TOLES certificate help my legal career?

TOLES Advanced

Obtaining a TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills) certificate can significantly benefit your legal career, especially if you’re planning to practice law in an international context or work in environments where English is the primary, or even secondary, language of communication.

The TOLES certificates allow international lawyers and law students to prove their level of specialised legal English.

This requires different language from the English needed to pass a general English language exam or a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) exam required for non-native English speakers enrolling at a UK based university, or a Secure English Language Test (SELT) used for immigration purposes.

TOLES exams assess “specific grammar and vocabulary necessary to understand and draft cross-border contracts in English and the English needed to feel confident when dealing with international commercial liabilities and financial matters”.

TOLES certificates are valid for life and help law firms ascertain your level of English competency, and give you additional transferable language skills.

Below we consider how a TOLES certificate can help your legal career and look into the different TOLES courses in more detail…



How will a TOLES certificate help my legal career?

The TOLES certificates were launched in 2000 and have helped thousands of law students and lawyers improve their English and succeed in international law.

Whether you’re looking to enhance your career prospects, increase your professional credibility, or expand your professional network, TOLES can be a valuable asset.

The following benefits are gained with a TOLES certificate:

Enhanced legal English proficiency – TOLES focuses specifically on legal English, unlike general English language tests. It helps you develop and certify your ability to use English in legal settings effectively. This includes understanding and using legal terminology correctly, which is crucial for drafting documents, understanding contracts, and communicating with clients and colleagues in law firms.

Improved job prospects – many global law firms and international corporations require proof of high-level proficiency in legal English. A TOLES certificate can make your resume stand out when applying for positions in these organizations. It signals to potential employers that you have the specific language skills needed to perform effectively in a legal context.

Credibility with clients – in legal practice, being able to communicate clearly and accurately is paramount. A TOLES certificate demonstrates to clients that you possess a thorough understanding of legal English, which can enhance their trust in your abilities, particularly when dealing with international clients.

Requirement for certain positions – for lawyers who trained in a non-English speaking country but wish to practice in an English-speaking environment, or for those looking to qualify in jurisdictions like the UK, a TOLES certificate can be a requirement or a significant advantage.

Continuous professional development – preparing for and obtaining a TOLES certificate encourages continuous professional development. This process enhances not only your language skills but also your understanding of law in an international context.

Networking opportunities – being associated with TOLES may also provide networking opportunities through seminars, workshops, and events that are part of the TOLES training or legal English learning community. This can lead to forming valuable professional relationships and partnerships.

Flexibility and adaptability – the knowledge and skills verified by a TOLES certificate can be particularly beneficial for lawyers who need to adapt to different legal environments or work on cases that involve multiple jurisdictions. This adaptability is increasingly important in today’s globalized legal market.

A TOLES certificate is a certified way of boosting your career prospects in an international setting, making you more competitive and effective.



TOLES certificates courses

There are three levels of TOLES certificates available at present which are designed for differing skills levels ranging from foundation to advanced.

They all include exams and tests designed to assess your knowledge of English language legal vocabulary and grammar, and ensure that every non-English speaking student can access a test that is suitable to their present ability.

Here is a brief overview of each course with a link to take you directly to the right course:

Foundation – The TOLES Foundation is the first step for mastering key legal vocabulary in different areas of law as it equips delegates with relevant skills to practice the profession, including contract drafting styles, effective communication and presentation, negotiation, commercial awareness, international legal terminology, use of specific vocabulary in context and register in varied legal texts, correct grammar, as well as natural collocations.

The topics and areas of law to be covered include the following:

General overview of the legal profession in the UK
Introduction to the English common law
Courts and litigation
Commercial contracts: law and clauses
Plain language writing style
The law of tort
Employment law
Business law: forms of business
Company law
Intellectual property

Higher – The Higher Exam is the second step in successful professional development with TOLES. The tasks at this level all use authentic, challenging general English and we recommend that exam candidates study some additional grammar as well as training in legal English in order to score highly.

Areas covered within the TOLES higher course include:

Practical reading, writing and listening skills in authentic legal situations
The reading and writing paper requires learners to deal confidently with complex and recent commercially-relevant case studies, extracts from contracts and a professional letter
The listening paper consists of listening to conversations between two or more lawyers or a lawyer and a client and answering questions based on understanding.
135-minute examination

Advanced – The Advanced Exam is the third step in successful professional development with TOLES. The exam measures a candidate’s legal English skills against the standard required of native English-speaking lawyers.

The course will include:

Practical reading, writing and drafting skills in authentic legal situations
The vocabulary and grammar required for contract drafting.
A working knowledge of the difference between ‘legalese’ and ‘plain English’
Sensitivity to register and an understanding of how formal and informal English is used in a professional workplace.
120-minute examination

Many employers around the world recognize TOLES as being a real-world, respected measure of an individual’s ability regarding legal English-language aptitude.

However, TOLES is not a substitute for English language learning but has been designed to support lawyers looking to boost their knowledge of legal terminology and application within an English-speaking legal system.

It can help gain valuable credit with prospective employers, giving you practical and sound knowledge in order to do your job to the best of your ability.

To find out more about each of the TOLES courses and exams, please click here.

Alternatively, you can contact us to book your place, or use the links above for a specific TOLES level.