What is TOLES and Why do I Need it?
TOLES is an international legal English certification in the market. To understand its value and relevance, here are some frequently asked questions that TOLES providers may often receive.
Q: What does TOLES stand for?
A: TOLES stands for the Test of Legal English Skills.
Q: What is TOLES?
A: TOLES is a series of legal English examinations that tests certain skills of lawyers, law students, legal translators and other legal professionals.
Q: How many levels of TOLES exams are there?
A: There are three (3) levels of the TOLES exam, namely Foundation, Higher and Advanced.
Q: Why are there three (3) levels of TOLES?
A: There are three (3) levels to make it easier for decision-makers to classify candidates at a certain level based on their knowledge: basic/beginner, intermediate or expert.
Q: Is it necessary to take all three (3) levels of the TOLES exam and in order?
A: No, delegates can start at any level and in any order. Some delegates take all three (3) levels, while others take only one (1) or two (2). Some students may start at the Higher or Advanced and then aim to do the Foundation depending on the availability of the exam in their region. A decision maker like a university, training institute or potential employer may often request delegates to sit a placement test to determine which level is more suitable.
Q: Who has developed and owns the TOLES series of exams?
A: TOLES is developed by a private organisation in the UK called Global Legal English. TOLES was established in the year 2000 and works independently of any university or college.
Q: Why does TOLES work independently from universities and colleges?
A: TOLES works independently from universities and colleges because it follows a more professional and practical approach that is relevant to the workplace rather than an academic approach that applies to educational institutions.
Q: Why was TOLES established?
A: TOLES was established as a result of the request of a leading commercial law firm in London, whereby commercial lawyers at the firm stated that international students coming to work at the firm had all the relevant traditional general English language certificate, but lacked the required legal language to carry out actual, relevant and essential legal tasks at work.
Q: is TOLES a member of any renowned organisation and what is its function?
A: Yes, TOLES is a member of the International Division of the Law Society of England & Wales. The Law Society regulates the professional standards of solicitors and gives them a licence to practice law in England & Wales.
Q: How is being a member of the International Division of the Law Society relevant?
A: Being a member of the International Division of the Law Society means being able to offer practical and professional exams that help lawyers with authentic tasks. It also means being able to consult with law firms in London about the content of the exams and materials.
Q: What skills does TOLES develop to support international legal professionals in reaching the standard of legal English in demand?
A: TOLES equips delegates with excellent drafting, effective communication, clear correspondence, first-class negotiation, strong sense of commercial awareness, specialised legal vocabulary concepts used in context, appropriate register in different legal texts, natural collocations, language style, etc.
Q: What topics does TOLES cover?
A: TOLES covers different areas of law, including the legal profession, courts and litigation, banking, the English legal system, the common law, contract law, employment law, tort law, plain English and commercial contract drafting, business law, company law, intellectual property law, letter writing, etc.
Q: Who will benefit from TOLES?
A: Different individuals and organisations whose first language is not English may benefit from TOLES, including lawyers, law students, legal translators, paralegals, legal researchers, knowledge managers, legal executives, personal assistants, administrative and executive assistants, legal and support secretaries, company secretaries and directors, judges, HR personnel, other legal and business professionals as well as international commercial law firms and offices, in-house legal departments, public and private companies, etc.
Q: How many hours of study is recommended to prepare well for the TOLES exams?
A: The duration of study may vary depending on the delegate or level. A minimum of twenty-five (25) hours of study is recommended to do well.
Q: Can I self-study the materials for the TOLES exams and sit the exams only without attending any exam preparation classes?
A: Yes, you can. There is no requirement to attend any preparation courses. However, the lessons learnt during such preparation courses are often more beneficial than self-studying as you can benefit from discussions, interactions and exchanges that take place. Some delegates find it challenging to understand and look for some legal concepts on their own.
Q: What is the main aim of the TOLES exams?
A: The main aim of the TOLES exams is to assess accuracy and proficiency of the legal language used in context rather than fluency. TOLES is designed to assess the language of the law used in context rather than the actual law itself.
Q: What do others say about TOLES?
A: Some delegates reported that commercial awareness and relevant skills are what modern international commercial law firms and offices require, which are what TOLES equips them with. Delegates have stated that although many of the texts seem very basic, they help lawyers explain complex legal jargons in a clear and simple way to their clients. Many delegates have highlighted that they consider TOLES to be the bridge between theoretical implications (academia) and practical applications (actual work).
Q: I do not know any English law and do not have any relevant legal knowledge or background. Will that be an issue?
A: Absolutely not. TOLES is designed and developed to help delegates clearly explain the law in their country and jurisdiction by using the appropriate legal language in context.
Q: How does TOLES compare to other currently existing legal English exams?
A: As of December 2016, TOLES is the only valued and credible legal English exam that exists in the market.
Q: Who already offers TOLES?
A: There are currently a number of registered authorised TOLES centres around the world. These include British Council schools, language institutes, academic institutions, public and private entities as well as individual providers. Such providers may invigilate exams for their corporate clients.
Q: With so many TOLES providers out there, how to select which one to go with?
A: A TOLES provider should always be up-to-date with regards to content. Some providers only use the coursebook provided by TOLES as their only source. Make sure to use a provider who is regularly up-to-date and can go beyond the book. After all, TOLES recommends the use of additional support materials to better equip delegates with relevant legal English skills.
Q: Which organisations recognise TOLES?
A: Many delegates working in reputable organisations, companies, corporate entities, leading law firms and commercial entities have taken TOLES. Such corporate clients include Sony Eriksson, Allen & Overy, Freshfields, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, European Court of Justice, European Central Bank, KPMG, European Law Students Association, Alcatel Business Solutions, Pricewaterhousecoopers (PWC), Baker and Mckenzie, United Law Associates, Siemens, among others.