Law-speak Translated…

Even if a legal professional may be lucky enough to speak with a client in the native language of the client, the attorney tends to use a special set of words unique to the profession.

Let me start with the obvious and boring stuff:

–speak clearly and efficiently
–simplify complex legal issues
–eliminate clutter
–develop your own unique style
–establish rapport with judges, juries, and clients
–eliminate stale, lawyerly speaking habits–use vibrant, expressive language

Now to the fun stuff (keep reading):

Experienced professionals who have grown comfortable using the words of the profession might want to think about whether they are using words not commonly used by non-professionals.

For example, a real estate attorney might use specific real estate words, easement, etc. unfamiliar to many. Patent attorneys speak a rather unusual language even though it is English. They use words like “prosecution”. Most clients unfamiliar with patents, think of prosecution as what a prosecutor does but no, in the patent specialty arena, it refers to the events that occur between filing and issuing a patent application between the government agency and the patent attorney.

The first step in building a good relationship with a client is recognizing that the professional, particularly an experienced one, uses words that are quite often unfamiliar to their client.

The second step is to translate those words into words the client is comfortable with using, without misrepresenting any facts, timelines, or details that are materially important to serving the client.

Recognizing the special language spoken by the attorney, and tuning that vocabulary to communicate on the same level as the client, is critical to the success of the attorney/client relationship. By recognizing differences in vocabulary the attorney can build from a common basis with a client. That common basis is fundamental to building a trust relationship that can last for decades.

The following are examples of lawyer speak translated to common vernacular:


Example 1: “Upon complete and total compliance with the terms and conditions herein described, shall be consigned to the custody of Satan for a period not less than all of eternity. Conversely, in the event that the party of the first part fails to comply to the terms and conditions herein described, the party of the first part shall nevertheless be consigned to the custody of Satan in the same manner and for the same term as described above.”

Translation: You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.)

Example 2: “The respondent to relinquish all right to use of oxygen, hydrants, nourishments so that they may expire.”

Translation: short version Drop dead

Example 3: When the party of the first part is responsible for willful deception directed at or towards the party of the second part, the party of the first part is culpable. When the party of the first part is found responsible for repeated, willful deception directed at or towards the party of the second party, the party of the second part is no longer excused of liability.

Translation: Fool me once, shame on. . . uh. . . shame on you? Fool me twice? Ain’t gonna happen.

My favorite,

Example 4: “It is the express opinion of this poster that concerning the events that have recently occurred may be expressed with an inevitable, ‘Excrement occurs.’ Now it would please all parties involved if the complainant would close that orifice into which pastry is ingested. And I express this with much force and feeling.”
Translation: “S**t happens! Shut your pie-hole!”

Don’t get upset. I’m just translating to the common vernacular to assist in open dialogue.
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