Do Your Clients Expect Legalese?

Matt Salzwedel, who blogs at The Legal-Writing Editor, agrees with Andy Mergendahl that lawyers should ditch legalese, but zeroes in on two commenters who said their clients expect legalese. Says Salzwedel, “It’s possible to educate your clients about why plain-language writing is preferred. It’s also possible to educate them respectfully and without sounding defensive.”

Lawyering Skills

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  • http://www.phillipslaweast.com/blog/ Michael Goldstein

    I have found that my clients abhor legalese when describing their situation. They generally want someone to explain their matter in plain simple English. However, when a letter goes out to the other side, they expect much more legal terminology.

  • http://blog.simplejustice.us shg

    I never get tired of posts about legal writing. I could read these posts a million times and still find them fascinating. Oops, a puppy just died. Sorry. (Inside joke, for those of you alarmed. No puppies were harmed in the posting of this comment.)

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      LOL criminal defense lawyers don’t write!

  • http://lawyersareboring.tumblr.com/ Serena Manzoli

    I hate legalese. But I also found some of my clients asking for it.
    When I just graduated, I used quite a lot of legalese. Then I dropped it. Some of my clients were disappointed. They didn’t just want to see the “technicalities”, they wanted to see complexity, subordinate sentences, a bit of a retro vocabulary, opaque meaning.
    I asked myself why, and had the feeling that some clients see the lawyer as he was the magician who spells out some mysterious words and makes the magic. So the whole thing gets quite trivial if you understand all of it. There must be some mystery in law.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      For the rest of your legal career, clients will ask you to do stupid things. That’s no reason to do them.

  • http://lawyersareboring.tumblr.com/ Serena Manzoli

    Agree. And I’ll do nothing to satisfy their desire of stupid things. But I wonder why they ask for something they cannot possibly understand. Maybe they’re looking for something else in a lawyer: not a rational being, but a wizard, a guide, … ? But I’m moving toward legal philosophy here.
    Curious to know if someone else had similar experiences of clients begging for some legalese.