The Foundation of the International Language and Law Association

The origin of the initiative to found a society and a journal can be dated pretty precisely to Sept 20, 2007, during the 5th "Berlin conference on open access" in Padua in Northern Italy. Peter Tiersma and Dieter Stein were attending this meeting, independently. They knew of each other, but had actually never personally met, until they happened to be sitting at a bar during this meeting , eventually introduced themselves to each other and got talking about all kinds of things. In the process, the topic “language and law” came up, like other topics do in the course of a casual conversation between academics. The topic caught on, and eventually the idea of a society emerged. From that point onwards, things started taking shape. Peter talked to Larry Solan, who, together with Peter, had long been working in the field, and the three of us decided to get the society and the journal language and law going. Over time, hundreds of people from around the world joined the organization, as it became an important voice in the field of language and law through the newsletter that Peter disseminated until shortly before his death in 2014.

Relaunch in 2017 - Constitution of the ILLA

Until now ILLA has been the first network sharing information about important events or published papers regarding language and law. To establish ILLA also as an living organisation with a sustainable structure the association has been relaunched during ILLA's first international conference from September 7th-9th, 2017, hosted by Friedemann Vogel in Freiburg, Germany. Regarding the overall topic "Language and Law in a World of Media, Globalisation and Social Conflicts" there were 50 talks, keynotes and workshops discussing the constitution of law by language and media in the context of multilingualism, digitalization and social conflicts around the world. Participants were also famous scholars and practitioners like Prof. Dr. Ninon Colneric, former judge of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, and Minister of Education in Hesse (Germany), Prof. Dr. R. Alexander Lorz.

At the last day of the conference, the plenary business meeting unanimously took the following decisions regarding the constitution and mode of operation of the society:

  1. The society shall be governed by two presidents and an executive committee. One of the presidents shall come from linguistics, the other from law. One of the presidents is the conference director of a general meeting. Their term of office lasts from the end of one ILLA general conference to the end of the next.

    The current presidents are the linguist, Friedemann Vogel (Freiburg, Germany), and the lawyer, Frances Olsen (UCLA, USA). Their term thus ends with the end of the next ILLA general conference in 2019.
  2. In addition to the two presidents, the executive committee has another four members and shall consist equally of two linguists and two jurists. Every two years, at the end of the ILLA general meeting, one of the members of the executive is replaced by a scholar from the same respective discipline (i.e. either law or linguistics).

    The current members of the EC are the two presidents plus the following: Anne-Lise Kjær (Copenhagen, Denmark), Ralf Poscher (Freiburg, Germany), Lawrence Solan (New York, USA) and Dieter Stein (Düsseldorf, Germany).
  3. All officers must be members of ILLA.
  4. The finances of the society shall be managed by the presidents. Any surplus from conference organization or other income shall be transferred to the next conference director.
  5. There are two types of meetings: a general meeting and focus meetings. The general meetings, while under a broad umbrella theme, shall have a broad range of topics and take place every two years. The conference director is one of the presidents of ILLA. Focus meetings may be held ad hoc on a specialized topic. The linguistic forensics meeting is an established focus meeting of ILLA. The Executive committee approves the program of the general meeting and the decision and the program of focus conferences.

Language and Law - Legal linguistics

This relationship between law and language in its different variations is the main research subject of "legal linguists". Modern legal linguistics of the last twenty-five years is a common discipline of law and linguistics. Its members often have degrees in both linguistics and the law and explore the language based constitution of law in legislation, judicature, administration, jurisprudence (research and teaching) and commentaries. Important topics of legal linguistics are, for example: history and variation in lexicon, grammar, text and genre of law, law as structure of multimodal signs and network of texts, legal interpretation methods, implicit speech theories in legal practice, discourse in courts (between attorneys, judges, juries, defendant and public sphere), improvement of comprehension of legal text, conflict resolution, linguistic human rights, forensic analysis and others.