My boss told me today “the only tool a lawyer has is his words!”
I am a young lawyer, a topper of my batch at law school. I thought I was a rock star till I started working. I could see myself floundering, especially when it comes to drafting documents or presenting arguments despite having a sound knowledge of law.
My senior, Mr. Sharma, called me one day and asked,
“So Abhijeet, let’s say that Mr. Bakshi and I are in the High court for this property dispute that has been going on for past 10 years. We want to hear your argument. How are you going to convince us that our analysis is wrong?”
I must admit I was caught off guard. I thought of all the moots that I had aced and still found myself struggling for almost half an hour, hopping from one point to another, never really making a coherent statement.
I was actually relieved when Mr. Sharma shifted his attention back to Mr. Bakshi and left me out of the discussion for a while. By the end of the talk, I could see clearly that I had not even begun to make a mark, forget about having influenced them with my ideas.
Later in the evening my boss called me once again and said, “I caught you by surprise, didn’t I Abhijeet?
I was tongue-tied because I knew I had failed. I didn’t say anything.
“You need to learn something a lot of lawyers never understand,” said Mr. Sharma.
“A lawyer is a professional speaker. He talks for his living. So, whenever you say something as a lawyer, you are making a professional presentation. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in court arguing or talking to a client or giving a speech. There are some basic rules for lawyers and for any kind of speech that he makes; he should sound like one to make an impact.”
“So Sir, what should I do?”
“Legalese- get a grasp of that! Legal English is different from general or business English, and a good knowledge of both is not sufficient to be able to function effectively in the legal profession.
Legal English is about use of English in legal documents, client advisory, negotiations and presentation before the Judge.”
“It is the solution to your problems.” Mr. Sharma added.
This article has been authored by Rituparna Prasoon from Team LawSkills.
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