Working with Lawyers


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Does it seem that the lawyer or legal department is always blocking your efforts to use plain language for better client service. Cheryl explain how to win them over. Based on an article in Clarity, journal on plain legal writing.

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Working with Lawyers

  1. 1. Working with LawyersAdvice to Plain Language Experts from Cheryl Stephens
  2. 2. Clarity International Video is based on an article in Clarity Journal #66
  3. 3. Cheryl StephensThe Plain Language Wizard
  4. 4. Scourge
  5. 5. Helping Lawyers• The nature of lawyers’ writing tasks• How to work with the lawyer temperament• Work more effectively with lawyers
  6. 6. Daily Legal Writing
  7. 7. Legal Writing ProductLawyers write 2 kinds of documents• Part of daily life or business• Creating rights and setting up duties
  8. 8. Transactional Drafting
  9. 9. What Is Legal Drafting2 types of drafting:•Transactional--dealings betweenpeople• Legislative--between people andgovernments
  10. 10. Legislative
  11. 11. Research on Lawyer Personality Lawyers are different from the most common personality types in the general population.
  12. 12. There is a Typical Lawyer
  13. 13. Lawyerswho don’t fit pattern go into other fields of law
  14. 14. Lawyer Attitudes Lawyers are • Skeptics • Pessimists • Cynics • WaryBe prepared emotionally.
  15. 15. Lawyers Are Left-brainedTechnical competenceValued overemotional intelligence.Accept the lack of rapport,cold reserve, andlack of interpersonal connection.
  16. 16. Don’t Expect Warmth Sandor Weisz photo
  17. 17. Lawyers Want Critical Analysis • Primed to criticize. • Not likely to see the positive. • Trained to expect the worst. Uncomfortable saying anything positive. You must not expect praise.
  18. 18. Traditional and Conservative
  19. 19. Lawyers Are Traditional Won’t see benefit of change involving risk. Risk-averse by nature.epSos .dephoto
  20. 20. Constant High Urgency• Need quick conclusion.• A quick decision, likely a “no”.Allow time for careful thought.
  21. 21. Put It in Writing
  22. 22. Independent and Autonomous • Not team players. • Competitive. • Profession rewards individual performance.
  23. 23. Lawyers want to control when and how they invest time, complete tasks, andadopt new techniques.
  24. 24. By Nature Adversarial –Tolerant of conflict. –Aggressive by training. –Sensitive and thin-skinned.• Don’t get defensive or emotional.• Don’t make it personal.• Appeal to competitive nature.
  25. 25. Crave Structure and Organization • Hate disorganization, inefficiencies. • No patience for the planning. • Need detail. • Want clear objectives.
  26. 26. Like Clear Structure
  27. 27. Create a Work PlanSchedules, closure ondecisions, planning, followthrough, and a "cut-to-the-chase”approach.Stick to deadlines.Expect the lawyer to do thesame.
  28. 28. Organize Communication ProcessGet lawyer involved early in the process,but get client permission. Mike Licht, NotionsCapita photo
  29. 29. Protocol of Communication• Recruit intermediaries.• Try to connect with the lawyer.• Be aware: They hear things literally.
  30. 30. You can work moreeffectively with lawyers
  31. 31. Show Respect for Legalities
  32. 32. You Write for the Client or PublicLow High
  33. 33. When Persuasion Is NeededProvide examples of plain language.Clarity increases precision.Not an experiment:an economic or market imperative.
  34. 34. Prove Your PointWords and Phrases Judicially-Considered
  35. 35. Lawyers’ Concept of JusticeJustice means achieving well-definedand expected outcomes.Abstract ideal of justicenot a motivator. Get them to share a goal – like access to justice.
  36. 36. Cheryl StephensPlain Language WizardPlainLanguage.comE m a i l @
  37. 37. Plain Language Wizardry
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