Bilingual Legal Challenges
In autumn 2004, Wales' newest law school, at Bangor University, admitted its first students - an exciting and challenging time for the staff and students, and a momentous occasion in the history of the University. With an initial teaching staff of seven, plus an administrator and a librarian, roughly fifty students were enrolled onto the LL.B degree for their first year of study.
As might be expected in north-west Wales, a substantial number of the students, over a third, were Welsh-speaking. Of these, eleven chose to be taught bilingually, attending lectures through the medium of English alongside the other students, but receiving their tutorial instruction in Welsh. Their essays and examinations will also be written in Welsh. Bangor is fortunate in that four of the Law School teaching staff, as well as the administrator and the law librarian, are Welsh-speakers, so that bilingual provision has been achievable with relative ease and without having to compromise academic standards.
Bangor Law School therefore has the chance to make a signal contribution to the development of bilingualism within the legal professions in Wales. Even if the number of students choosing Welsh-medium classes remains static, one hundred graduates will emerge each decade able to utilise their legal skills in both languages. …