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Distance Training of Pragmatic Competence of Law Students via Legal Cases in an English for Specific Purposes Course

Nadezhda Almazova
Oksana Sheredekina
Institute of Humanities, Graduate School of Applied Linguistics, Translation and Interpreting, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, 195251 Saint Petersburg, Russia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(11), 819;
Submission received: 30 October 2022 / Revised: 10 November 2022 / Accepted: 11 November 2022 / Published: 16 November 2022


The priority of the competence approach aimed at developing professional competency of higher education students reflects the labour market need for graduates with the skills required by their speciality and relevant to the interrelated disciplines. In the case of law students, such skills include awareness of both domestic and foreign legal systems, as well as full communicative competence in the foreign language they are going to use. A key component of foreign language communicative competence is pragmatic competence—that is, knowledge about how a foreign language is used appropriately in a legal context. The research conducted contributes to the issue of pragmatic competence training by means of a practice-oriented method—that is, the case method. The significance of the case method is determined by the twofold goal of developing pragmatic competence via pseudo-real legal situations that provide students with legal knowledge, as well as stimulate them to be effective communicators in the legal sphere. The study took place at SPbPU and involved 120 s-year law students. The experiment conducted was aimed at comparing the case method and traditional methods used for teaching Legal English, particularly the first legal advice strategy—a component of pragmatic competence. A specific feature of the experiment was that it was organized in the form of distance learning. To collect and analyse the data of the study, a qualitative and a quantitative method were applied. The results of the study showed a high efficiency of the case method for fostering pragmatic competence in an ESP course for law students in comparison with traditional methods, which were not very efficient. Besides, the experiment showed that an on-line format may be an adequate methodological means of effectively achieving the goal in a foreign language training for professional needs in a course with a time limit.

1. Introduction

Nowadays, while searching for a job, higher school graduates face a number of difficulties posed by high requirements of modern employers. They need a graduate—that is, a ready-made specialist—as this saves time and material resources of the enterprise. Consequently, graduates should both have deep knowledge in the field of their specialization and be well-versed not only in the native language but in a foreign language as well. Moreover, their experience is becoming a mandatory requirement of the employer. The employer is regarded as a consumer who needs well-trained graduates, who have to be adequately prepared by the higher education system. To reach the balance between the result of an educational process and current market demands, the education system has been forced to transform a modern educational paradigm from the dominance of fundamental knowledge to its integration into a practice-oriented educational process aimed at forming some skills and competences that are essential in the labour market.
A professionally oriented practice is especially significant in the legal sphere. Law professionals deal with a wide range of legal cases which require mental flexibility based on the fundamental knowledge of legal systems, both domestic and international ones, as well as attention to detail, since communication accuracy is often pivotal. Consequently, the law graduate is expected to be aware of current tendencies in regional and international business. Setting up some legal issues often depends on the ability of lawyers to use foreign languages, which are the sources to the world legal information base, and here arises a problem: how to effectively combine legal training and a foreign language in an educational process of law students within limited time. To find the solution to this problem, foreign languages methodologists search for efficient methods of a practice-oriented approach to teaching professional English. One of the methods which integrates both professionally and practice-oriented approaches is the case method.
The case method is in the focus of modern higher legal education as it fully corresponds to the idea of education based on practice. This method has gained a stronghold in the special legal disciplines and was integrated into a foreign language teaching practice several decades ago [1]. Its efficiency is determined by a comprehensive development of foreign communicative competence, which includes pragmatic competence vital for a lawyer, as it determines the effectiveness of a legal communicative act, even in the case of limited data about the subjects and the incidents.
Traditionally, the case method was in the focus of face-to-face professionally oriented foreign language education. The pandemic situation caused by COVID-19 revealed the significance of a distance training but posed a cluster of questions about the effectiveness of methods used in online formats. The search for the teaching methods that will be relevant to practice-oriented approach and demonstrate the sustainable effectiveness of the educational process in distance learning. As the case method showed, its potential in face-to-face teaching practice, this research is aimed at comparing traditional methods of teaching pragmatics to the case method in the distance format and to prove effectiveness of a practice-oriented method for legal pragmatic competence training.
The remainder of the paper is introduced by the literature review, which covers the concepts ‘pragmatic competence’ and ‘the case study’ in terms of legal education. Section 3 presents the methodology, including experiment design and data collection. The results of the experiment are revealed in Section 4, which is followed by the discussion of the difficulties a teacher can face in an online format.

2. Literature Review

The problem of defining the term ‘pragmatic competence’ is still relevant, since methodologists cannot come to a consensus on what it includes. It is an integrative part of communicative competence and is interpreted in three key ways: functional, sense-oriented and component.
A functional, or discourse-oriented, approach defines pragmatic competence as an integral part of the language system. The supporters of this approach focus on the sociocultural context that determines the speaker’s behaviour, which is ultimately realised in the utterance [2,3].
In the context of the sense-oriented model of J. Purpura, pragmatic competence is considered an utterance mediated by the target setting of a communicative act [4]. The pragmatic meaning is realised in the synergy of context, rhetoric, sociocultural, sociolinguistic and psychological components. Thus, this direction focuses on the multilevel nature of the concept ‘pragmatics’.
The component approach defines communicative competence as a three-component structure, which includes grammatical, strategic and sociolinguistic components [5]. The absence of the term ‘pragmatic competence’ in this model does not exclude its being a component of the structure. Understanding the sociolinguistic component of communicative competence as a system of rules that regulate discourse, on the one hand, and sociocultural regulation, on the other, M. Canale described the contextual and sociocultural correspondence of the contents plan to the expression plan [6]. Thus, the equivalence of the sociocultural component of communicative competence to the concept of pragmatic competence in the component model is obvious. At the same time, adherents of the component model of communicative competence contrast the sociocultural component with the strategic or compensatory one.
Therefore, in the current study, pragmatic competence is defined as an element of the multicomponent, unifying concept ‘communicative competence’ that additionally includes linguistic, sociocultural, subject-oriented, discourse, meditative and information competences [7,8]. In the legal sphere, pragmatic competence is defined as a choice of means and ways of communication—that is, legal strategies. They are considered communicative models that determine the right communicator’s behaviour realised in the algorithm the knowledge of which may help to achieve a communicative purpose. As legal practice is multi-contextual, the number of strategies varies in the works of different researchers [9,10].
The prediction of a result based on the long-term practice of legal problem solving involves both strategies and tactics to achieve a certain outcome of a legal action. The mediation of a strategy by pragmatic intention allows researchers to define this concept as a set of speech actions that implement the set of communicative goals via speech tactics as separate legal actions [11,12]. Strategy and tactics are in a subordinate relation to each other where strategy is a generic term [13]. Tactics provide the situational mobility of the strategy relevant to the context of legal communication. The researchers chose the strategy called ‘the first legal advice strategy’, which defines legal pragmatic competence in the definite legal context.
The tactics of the first legal advice are of different nature. The analysis of legal literature on the legal advice strategy shows two purely legal tactics such as the information perception tactic that reflects the ways lawyers investigate cases and the situation perception tactic that allows the lawyer to choose the right way to the solution [10]. However, one cannot exclude a psychological aspect from the legal practice. Thus, psychological advice tactics are also relevant to a legal sphere. In psychology a five-step professional advice model is widely spread [14]. Five phases of the psychological advice practice include the contact establishment tactic, which is about the acquaintance of lawyers with their clients, the information about the duties and experience tactic, the choice of a dialogue structure tactic and the encouragement of the client to tell the truth tactic. The information gathering tactic and the desired result formulation tactic precede the main part of the conversation. At the end of the communicative act, alternative solutions tactic and a summarizing tactic are dominant, as they determine the future client’s intentions (Table 1).
The teachability of the pragmatic competence to all foreign language speakers is widely described in methodological literature. It is mainly based on the study of the intercultural aspect of pragmatic competence training [15,16] based on the divergences of sociocultural contexts such as apologies [17,18,19], refusals [20], requests [18], suggestions [21] or where there is a need to express one’s opinion and gratitude [22,23], to show politeness [24], etc. Students’ pragmatic competence covers pragmalinguistic skills—that is, the ability to use the appropriate tactical techniques in the definite context—and metapragmatic ones—that is, the ability to detect pragmatic infelicities and cope with them [25,26]. A. Hamoudi states that for a foreign language learner, both pragmalinguistic and metapragmatic skills are realized in socio-pragmatic instructions, which are in the centre of pragmatic competence training [25]. Despite the twofold nature of pragmatic competence, some research is focused on the explicit way of teaching pragmatic competence (the training of pragmalinguistic skills) [16,27,28]. This approach requires students to be familiar with the extensive number of contextualized pragmatic examples that need a long-term practice [29,30,31,32]. To solve this educational problem, D.A. Koike, L. Pearson, R.L. Shively, and J. House proposed the practice developing metapragmatic skills by means of explicit metapragmatic instructions [22,33,34]. The acquaintance with strategies and tactics relevant to the definite contexts allows students to transfer their knowledge to new or specific situations.
Pragmatic competence is also studied in the diverse professional communicative contexts, including medical [35], management [36], academic fields [37] and others. The priority of pragmatic competence for law students, that provides them with the effective communicative instrument (that is, strategies and tactics), is confirmed with a series of studies devoted to teaching pragmatic competence in the legal context. These studies are mainly focused on the field of legal translation and interpretation [38,39,40]. Legal pragmatic competence teaching practice is rather limited, and is mostly focused on the linguistic aspect, while communicative strategies and tactics are out of the research scope. Legal pragmatics is taught via legal discourse markers [41], translation strategies [42], content-based instructions [43], etc. The considerable interest of methodologists to legal pragmatic competence via legal vocabulary is reflected in the manuals for teaching Legal English. The analysis of some manuals disclosed the main intention of their authors to depict the specific features of the legal terminological system and introduce the basic types of legal documents [44,45,46,47,48]. This points to the need for the appropriate teaching of pragmatic competence to law students through the study of legal strategies and tactics and their contexts.
In search for an efficient method that will correlate Legal English and pragmatics, we turned to a case-study method. Historically, the case method was introduced in legal higher education by Christopher Columbus Langdell as the opportunity to practice real cases and obtain legal skills. Problem-solving tasks were widely used in business, sociology, medicine, etc. and, finally, were adopted to teaching foreign languages. The usefulness of the case method in teaching foreign languages is justified in the works by K. Westerfield (1989), M. Schleppegrel and L. Royster (1990) and Ch.U. Grosse (1988) [49,50,51]. The interest in this method for teaching Legal English is connected with the training of communicative competence in general [52,53,54,55,56], even if pragmatic competence is not the subject of their research.
The modern interest in distance learning derived from the pandemic situation caused by COVID-19 revealed a set of serious educational problems [39]. The studies of D. Burakova et al. and V. Dudar et al. showed that the results of distance learning is variable and depend on a various conditions such as a role of a teacher in learning process, students’ awareness of educational interaction and their professional intentions, etc. [57,58]. I. Karpovich et al. emphasize the significance of academic self-regulation—that is, students’ self-awareness, self-assessment, self-esteem, and self-development—as a key factor of effective distance learning [59]. The research conducted was designed to determine efficiency of a pragmatic competence training via legal cases to law students in distance learning. An educational experiment is considered to be the dominant tool for both program evaluation and decision-making in the policy of higher education [60,61].

3. Materials and Methods

3.1. Participants

The research was held at Peter the Great Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia. The experiment was conducted during the autumn term—that is, from September to November 2020. The specialization of cases based on legal practice, respectively, determined the sample of students who took part in the experiment—that is, the students who had to study common law systems of the UK and the USA. In total, 120 s-year students were recruited in the experiment. The division of law students into two equal groups (a control group (CGr) and an experimental group (EGr)) resulted in the objectiveness of the final correlation analysis and depicted the features of each educational approach. The selection of students was based on the exam results of the discipline ‘English for general purposes. The exam results showed that the participants in both groups had on average the same level of English language proficiency—that is, a B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages [62].
The EGr was offered a training method based entirely on the analysis of cases, during which the educational goal was the development of pragmatic competence. The set of exercises included the Six Thinking Hats technique [63] aimed at finding all possible solutions to the case problem, audio and video fragments to analyse the existing communication patterns, to find the tactics used and to transform the given pattern into an ideal one. The final tasks included online role-play games where the students could demonstrate the acquired knowledge, as well as a peer-review assessment to practice the evaluation skills and anticipate their own mistakes. A vocabulary practice is an integrative part of the case method that varies from a vocabulary introduction for the clarification of the case terms to their use in the case discussion. The CGr went on studying Legal English starting with a professionally oriented vocabulary and grammar and finishing up with dialogues creation. The online format was supported by an offline training for both groups. As the significance of pragmatics for lawyers is essential and has its peculiarities in different legal activities, we narrowed the field of our research to the notion of the first legal advice, or consultation—that is, the first meeting of a lawyer with a client that is the first step in establishing confidential business relationships. Consequently, both groups were aimed at practicing the first legal advice dialogue but in different ways. The CGr made the dialogues based on the lexical material, mainly following the training program on the discipline ‘English in the legal sphere’, while the EGr composed the dialogues based on the skills obtained via the cases studied.

3.2. Research Design

The experiment conducted, implemented in an online format, was aimed at comparing the learning capabilities of the case method and traditional teaching methods in the training of students’ communication skills in their future professional field in a time limited course. Mixed qualitative and quantitative analyses to collect and analyse data for the study were employed. The quantitative analysis of data obtained from the final test was based on the Student’s t-test, which is used to determine if the means of two sets of data (of two experimental groups) are significantly different from each other. The qualitative analysis was based on expert evaluation of students’ final test comment. Five Legal English teaching experts were involved in the evaluation of students’ answers, that ensured the validity of this procedure. The descriptive statistical analysis of the data obtained revealed new aspects of distance legal pragmatic teaching that require special attention.

3.3. Data Collection

During the autumn term, the EGr students had a course that consisted of 4 cases on different types of law: Business Law, Family Law, Patent Law and Tort Law. Each case was divided into four parts in accordance with the stages of the case: (1) case background that acquainted the students with the problem, the pretrial stage that included (2) the first legal advice and (3) the attempt to accept the settlement agreement and (4) the trial. Despite the multilevel nature of the case, special emphasis was placed on training the pragmatic competence specific for the first legal advice activity when a lawyer sees a client for the first time and has to demonstrate professionalism and interest in their further cooperation. After studying the theoretical background of the first legal advice strategy via some exercises on matching, classification, listening and watching practice aimed at identifying tactical techniques (replicas), etc., the EGr students prepared the first legal advice dialogues and played them out. The CGr students were working mainly on reading professionally oriented texts, getting acquainted with the vocabulary and using it in a dialogue. Both groups studied via Microsoft Teams, where separate channels were created. This communication platform allowed students to work with a teacher and organise extra meetings to discuss the material studied with other students.
To collect and analyse the data for this study, both quantitative and qualitative content analyses of the students’ answers were used. The students’ results were measured by the evaluation criteria—according to which, a student could receive one point for each answer (0.5 points for the answer Right, Wrong, Partially Right and 0.5 points for the comment that excluded the random choice of the answer (the second 0.5 points for comments is given in case a student has answered right on the first part of the question)). The teacher was provided with an achievement test control form with the right answers (Table 2). The achievement test control form included the examples of comments for conducting the expert evaluation of students’ detailed answers (qualitative analysis). The maximum number of points any student could get was 10 in both groups. The results of each group on each question were summed up to depict the overall picture of the pragmatic competence training. A descriptive statistical analysis and a correlation analysis of students’ results showed the differences in the quality of the final product at the end of the studying process.
At the end of the study, each group received the achievement test form (Table 3) based on Discourse Completion Tasks aimed at eliciting students’ responses that would reflect their pragmatic competence through their lexical, grammatical and strategic choices [64,65]. This test was adjusted to the legal advice strategy in general and to all the tactics that are correlated with it, such as ‘You must inform the client that you’ll be making notes: ‘I’ll make notes’, which corresponds to a contact establishment tactic realised in the appropriate dialogue structure. The only tactic that was excluded from the achievement test was a situation perception tactic. This tactic is relevant to the context studied, since the English legal system explores legal issues from the point of view of a case law based on previous decisions made by the courts. English case law considers each case a general one (the case that is the equivalent to some cases known to the English legal practice). Thus, the achievement test was developed to examine the level of pragmatic competence. Each student had to answer the same question in the contracted and full form, leaving their comments on each item.

4. Results

The research data were collected at the end of the experiment, which lasted for one term. The data included the sum of points got by each group for each question of the achievement test. The quantitative analysis was performed in ‘STATISTICA’ ver. 0.1. p-value is less than 0.05 is the evidence against the null hypothesis; consequently, a statistically significant difference between the results of the CGr and the EGr shows the efficiency of the case method in the distance format, which is demonstrated in Table 4 and Table 5. The calculations of the t-test revealed that temp = 6.9; temp = 6.9 > tcr p (5%) = 2.1. Thus, the study of the distance pragmatic competence training by means of the case method in the EGr appears to be markedly more efficient than the results of CGr, where the studying process was based on a classical multistage scheme of vocabulary perception.
Different distance approaches to teaching pragmatic competence of the first legal advice to law students depicted the imperfection of a purposeful presentation of theoretical material. In contrast, the case method introduced the situation with its specific features (known from the case background information). A deep analysis of each first legal advice dialogue allowed students to clarify and understand their shortcomings that were vital in terms of the case studied.
The quantitative analysis of data showed that a problematic tactic for the CGr students was the information gathering tactic aimed at gathering details revealing the real circumstances of the case in a lawyer-client conversation. Though the majority of CGr students coped with issue no. 5 about the detailed pre-studying the case that must precede the constructive dialogue, many of them could not comment on the correct answer and received 0.5 points only in contrast with the EGr students that received 57 points in total. Question no. 7 about unrelated issues was a failure for the CGr, as, in general, it scored only 18 points for this question compared to 48 points of the EGr. For the EGr this question was relatively successful, as they had a limited practice of using this type of question in one case only.
The maximum points for questions no. 1, 3, 8, 9 and 10, which were mainly meant to verify the tactics connected with the plane of expression of the utterance, were in the EGr, as they had practiced the peer-review analysis of the groupmates’ dialogues [8,66,67]. The students found the mistakes in the lawyer’s statements, which were corrected by replacing the modals or the whole sentences just as in issue no. 8 about the client’s choice of the lawyer. The other issues the EGr students succeeded in were questions no. 4 and 6 related to the organization issues reflected in the dialogue.
A few EGr students were confused with issue no. 2 about the plan of the meeting that has to be discussed and agreed on. Thus, the 54 points obtained by the EGr students contrasted with 24 points of the CGr. The general mistake made by the CGr students was the fact that they were sure that the structure of the conversation they knew was undisputable.
The figures introduced in Table 4 ‘Pragmatic competence training results’ in the CGr and the Egr show the significant differences in the results of the study aimed at working out tactics of the pragmatic competence. The Egr has outperformed the CGr in each tactic, as they gathered the maximum sum of points in 7 out of 10 issues. This confirms the efficiency of a case method in the context of pragmatic competence training.
A qualitative analysis based on an expert assessment of students’ comments showed a significant advantage of mastering the pragmatic competence of EGr students over that of the CGr students. The EGr students were able to comment on all questions of the test, while the CGr students left only partial or superficial comments or not any. For example, in the comments to question no. 5, no answers were given by CGr students, which indicates their ignorance of the information gathering tactic. The main comments of the experts were related to the style and grammar of the answers, while the content of the statements was correct. The test results were discussed with both groups in order to clarify any ambiguous issues, work on errors and prevent them in the future.

5. Discussion

COVID-19 caused a shift from face-to-face learning to distance learning. The main goal of the study was to verify the possibility of effectively using professionally oriented methods, in particular, the case method for solving a number of problems that a modern teacher faces, namely: the need to form professionally oriented communication skills (legal pragmatic competence of law students) within a limited time frame; at the same time to develop communication skills in a foreign language within ESP course; and, what is more important, to organize the process in an online format to increase the time required to achieve the stated goals. The results compellingly showed that the implementation of practice-oriented method—that is, the case method—in the distance educational process is more valuable traditional ones.
We observed both quantitative and qualitative differences in the results of the two groups of students, though the initial level of language proficiency was identical. The primary reason for the high results of the EGr students is a professionally oriented approach to teaching legal pragmatic competence. Students were involved in real legal practice based on cases from the world’s legal information base. It allowed them to take on the role of a lawyer contacting a client and to practice all the tactics of the legal advice strategy, to remember and understand them. The second reason is based on the use of instructions, which is fully corresponds with the studies of D.A. Koike and L. Pearson, R.L. Shively and L. Yang [23,33,34], who connected the efficiency of an educational process with the guidance role of a teacher. Following A. Hamoudi and D.C. Orlich et al., we demonstrated that metapragmatic instructions cause the understanding of strategies and tactics: their nature and context [25,26] and proved the crucial need for both types of skills training, pragmalinguistic and metalinguistic.
The study revealed some difficulties coherent with online teaching format. The monitoring and control of students’ work in mini groups was complicated by the fact that students worked in separate channels, so that the teacher could not be in each one all the time in contrast with in-person teaching. The experiment pointed out the problem of students’ motivation, which is as I. Karpovich et al., D. Bylieva et al., E. Pozdeeva et al. and L. Visser et al. stated directly affects the effectiveness of distance learning [59,68,69,70]. Highly motivated students avoid speaking their native language, as well as simplifying or, at worst, ignoring the task. The study also supports the idea of G. Mugfold, who emphasised the need to train teachers to foster pragmatic competence [24]. In methodology, this issue usually arises in the content and language integrated learning that is based on the close cooperation of foreign language teachers with the specialists in the legal sphere [71,72,73]. Nevertheless, this study clearly demonstrated that strategies and tactics are determined by the specific legal knowledge such as legal proceedings, legal ethics, precedents, historical background, etc. [38,39,40,74]. The other issue revealed at the stage of methodological research base development is connected with the implementation of the case method that cannot be used in the educational process independently [75]. The balanced approach to the case method in the legal training means that it has to be supported by such methods as the Six Thinking Hats technique, online role-play games and a peer-review assessment practice. These co-methods helped students to solve the problems performing different roles, practice dialogical speech aimed both at getting a client interested and at finding a required lawyer. The analysis of the dialogues of their classmates allowed students to identify trivial and specific mistakes made during the performance of these communicative tasks. As a result, a picture of an ideal first legal advice dialogue was formed, and a significant progress was demonstrated.
The research conducted was based on the pedagogical experiment with two groups of law students that trained their legal pragmatic competence in two different ways: via cases and legal texts. The level of pragmatic competence awareness was tested, measured by means of the t-test and evaluated by professionals in the course of expert evaluation practice. The results of the research conducted make it possible to conclude that teaching legal pragmatic competence via a practice-oriented approach in the course of distance learning is more effective than the vocabulary-oriented practice based on reading legal texts performed in the same format. It is also time-saving, which is vital in terms of time-limited courses. The experiment showed that the use of the case method as a fundamental means of true-to-life legal practice requires the implementation of co-methods, which ensures higher rates of students’ pragmatic competence awareness. We consider that this practice may be extended to other legal strategies and tactics as mediation and trial in order to form a comprehensive legal pragmatic competence.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, N.A. and O.S.; methodology, N.A. and O.S.; software, O.S.; validation, N.A. and O.S.; formal analysis, N.A. and O.S.; investigation, N.A. and O.S.; resources, N.A. and O.S.; data curation, N.A.; writing—original draft preparation, O.S.; writing—review and editing, N.A.; visualization, N.A. and O.S.; supervision, N.A.; project administration, O.S.; funding acquisition, N.A. and O.S. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation under the strategic academic leadership program ‘Priority 2030’ (Agreement 075-15-2021-1333 dated 30 September 2021).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data are available upon request from the authors.


The authors express their gratitude to the reviewers who carried out the analysis and constructive criticism of the submitted article.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Table 1. Tactics of the first legal advice strategy.
Table 1. Tactics of the first legal advice strategy.
No.TacticStatus of the TacticDescription
1Contact establishmentpsychological(a) informing the client about the capabilities and functions;
(b) choosing the appropriate structure of the dialogue;
(c) encouraging the client to be active in delivering information.
2Information gatheringlegal/psychological(a) listening to the client’s monologue that is followed by clarifying questions;
(b) clarifying the topic of the appeal and collecting information with the help of large-scale questions.
3Desired result formulationpsychologicalestablishing the goals and requirements
4Information perception (by the lawyer)Legal(a) documents—monologue;
(b) monologue–documents.
5Situation perceptionLegal(a) as a general case;
(b) as a unique case.
6Alternative solutionspsychologicaldeveloping several solutions to the case
7Summarizingpsychologicalconcluding the discussion and planning further actions
Table 2. Achievement test control form.
Table 2. Achievement test control form.
Issue No.Tactic No.IssueRightWrongPartially RightComment (See the Examples)
11aWe start the conversation with ‘Good morning, Mrs Derby. I’m Mr Verner, your advisor. How can I help you?’ V We start the session with more general information about weather, way to the office, etc. to ‘break the ice’.
21b,3You suggest the structure of the discussion: ‘Perhaps we must start by going over the details of your case. Then we’ll discuss what to do’. VIn the agreement on the structure it is necessary, but it has to be in the form of some offer: ‘Perhaps we should start by going over the details of your case. Then we can discuss what might be done’.
31bYou must inform the client that you’ll be making notes: ‘I’ll make notes.’ V‘Do you mind if I make a few notes?’
41aYou must inform the client about: ‘I should start by giving you an idea of what sort of fees are likely to be involved in this case. A realistic estimate for carrying out this kind of work would be …’V You must do it despite the fact that the client is acquainted with the pricelist.
52If clients go on wandering off onto various issues you should stop them: ‘I’m not sure it’s strictly relevant to the issues we need to discuss at this moment. Let’s focus on the appropriate issue’. VYou’re to stop the client in the polite way like ‘That’s an interesting point. However, I’m not sure it’s strictly relevant to the issues we need to discuss at this moment. Could we focus on the appropriate issue just for the moment and come back to this other issue in a minute.
64If you need to consult the document on the case you ask for a break: ‘As soon as I have heard from you with the records mentioned earlier, then I’ll be in a position to start work on the case’.V It’s vital in case the documents were not provided before the meeting.
72Answering the client’s question ‘Are those relevant issues?’ you state ‘Of course, they are relevant’. VIf the client doesn’t see the relevance between the subject of the discussion and the information requested, you should show the link: ‘This might not seem strictly relevant to your case, but it is in fact very important. The reason I say that is that in order to establish whether…’
87To get confirmation that the case will be handled to you, ask for it: ‘Mrs Derby, please, decide whether I will work on your case’. V ‘I would be more than happy to handle this case for you. Perhaps you could let me know how you wish to proceed?’ is the appropriate phrase to do it.
96If you are absolutely sure that nothing can be done to help the client, you are to say about it: ‘No appeal is possible’. VYou are to, but in the other detailed manner: ‘I’d love to be able to tell we could appeal, and if we could I’d file it now and fight with all our resources to put this decision right—but, being honest, I can’t. And the reasons I say that are as follows...’
107To sum up you state: ‘Here’s what we need to do. I’ll start by…’V The client has to know what steps will be taken by you.
Table 3. Achievement test form.
Table 3. Achievement test form.
Task: Read the issue and decide whether it is Right, Wrong or Partially right. Comment on each issue to clarify your choice by stating the relevant/irrelevant information or correcting the replics.
Issue No.IssueRightWrongPartially RightComment
1We start the conversation with ‘Good morning, Mrs Derby. I’m Mr Verner, your advisor. How can I help you?’
2You suggest the structure of the discussion: ‘Perhaps we must start by going over the details of your case. Then we’ll discuss what to do’.
3You must inform the client that you’ll be making notes: ‘I’ll make notes.’
4You must inform the client about: ‘I should start by giving you an idea of what sort of fees are likely to be involved in this case. A realistic estimate for carrying out this kind of work would be …’
5If clients go on wandering off onto various issues, you should stop them: ‘I’m not sure it’s strictly relevant to the issues we need to discuss at this moment. Let’s focus on the appropriate issue’.
6If you need to consult the document on the case, you ask for a break: ‘As soon as I have heard from you with the records mentioned earlier, then I’ll be in a position to start work on the case’.
7Answering the client’s question ‘Are those issues relevant?’, you state ‘Of course, they are relevant’.
8To get confirmation that the case will be handled to you, ask for it: ‘Mrs Derby, please, decide whether I will work on your case’.
9If you are absolutely sure that nothing can be done to help the client, you are to say about it: ‘No appeal is possible’.
10To sum up you state: ‘Here’s what we need to do. I’ll start by…’
Table 4. Pragmatic competence training results in the CGr and the EGr.
Table 4. Pragmatic competence training results in the CGr and the EGr.
Question No.Arithmetic MeanMean DeviationDeviation Squares
Table 5. Critical value.
Table 5. Critical value.
p ≤ 0.05p ≤ 0.01
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Almazova, N.; Sheredekina, O. Distance Training of Pragmatic Competence of Law Students via Legal Cases in an English for Specific Purposes Course. Educ. Sci. 2022, 12, 819.

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Almazova N, Sheredekina O. Distance Training of Pragmatic Competence of Law Students via Legal Cases in an English for Specific Purposes Course. Education Sciences. 2022; 12(11):819.

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Almazova, Nadezhda, and Oksana Sheredekina. 2022. "Distance Training of Pragmatic Competence of Law Students via Legal Cases in an English for Specific Purposes Course" Education Sciences 12, no. 11: 819.

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