Rainmaking Recommendation #102: The Curse of Legalese

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

2014 and still many attorneys are writing in “legalese”.

I have personally seen and edited blog posts, client communications and newsletters which are geared to the non-legal public in which phrases such as “heretofore”, “wherein”, and the like have been liberally sprinkled throughout.

In most law schools, legal writing courses are a mandatory IL class.  It is there where we learn to write outlines, briefs, interrogatories, how to parse statutes.  And even though there is a movement towards writing with less legalese, it still is traditionally used during these courses.  However, legal writing and research courses are taught so that students can learn how to write for the courts and other lawyers.

Yet, in a world where it is important to gain visibility online, one of the reasons to use writing is not just to “argue” a case on paper, but also to attract new clients and keep old clients informed.  People are using the internet not only to find an attorney but to evaluate that attorney through their blogs, websites, and review sites.  They want to understand what that attorney is actually saying.

While an attorney may not blink to read or write:

“Please be advised that I am in receipt of your letter in regard to the above matter and have enclosed my response to the same.”

A client would rather you write:

“I have received your letter with regard to the Smith Case and below is my response.”

If you are writing blogs and newsletters, which I suggest you do to keep your name top-of-mind for clients and potential clients, write like you speak.  Very rarely do you hear an attorney in a normal conversation they speak in legalese (although there are some pretentious attorneys who still do).

Writing in a manner in which your market understands, using their language when necessary, will go a long way in making you seem like an expert in their field.

Res Ipsa Loquitor (the thing speaks for itself)

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  1. […] instead of using legalese, describe it to someone in plain English.  Those are the words you need to begin using in your […]

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