Washminster

Washminster
Washminster

Friday, 16 March 2012

The purpose of writing is to communicate...

I mentioned in a recent post that word limits were required in undergraduate law essays to develop the skills of succinctness and focus. As a tutor in law I often find that some students, attempting their first law essay, tend to go over the top in the language they use. They suffer from the misconception that lawyers should write with an old-fashioned, complex style. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The purpose of writing is to communicate. Not only is "legalese" off-putting, it hinders communication. I recently accompanied someone as a friend when they had to see a solicitor (following the death of their husband). After we left, she said to me - "I didn't understand a word of what he was saying". During the meeting I had to explain to her what it meant. ('translate' would be an appropriate term.) The solicitor even said "you put it so much better than I do". It should not be like that. Clients see their solicitor (and pay them considerable sums of money) for their expertise. It is the lawyers job to explain to their legally unqualified client - what it means. That doesn't mean treating them like idiots - but putting into understandable English the relevant points.

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