You’ve been through four years to get your Bachelor’s Degree and likely about three to get your JD, not to mention any internships or prior experience. All of that reading through case studies and precedent it’s not hard to begin to write or speak like you belong in Robert’s Rule of Order. There are clearly many circumstances where a professional, formal style can assist the young tort attorney, but sometimes formality goes well too far.
Most of all, lawyers must learn business etiquette. Naturally, that includes knowing marketing 101 to start with. But informality often gets attorneys in trouble. And this is especially true if they let colloquialisms slip into testimony or proceedings. However, there must be a balance for every lawyer– and this is particularly correct if you run your firm. Your public face is the one that helps make or break your business.
You Must Seek To Find Perfect Balance.
This can be the case when you are meeting a new client. You obviously want to show that you have the background knowledge to take their case, but you can’t weigh them down in lawyerese. Being able to demonstrate confidence and ease simultaneously is often the holy grail for dealing with new clients. Achieving this remains possible with a few minor changes.
Part of this could be interchanging common and more formal words. There are cases when you have to talk about embezzlement and others where you’ll refer to it as theft. There is no reason always to say extortion if you can also say blackmail. Speaking in a manner that everyone can understand can often be done by combining the two dominant threads of your experience.
Furthermore, you can also feel free to speak more at ease behind closed doors. Understanding that you are building a bond with your client, putting them at ease is often key. Being able to build that trust comes with a positive body language and easy to understand terms. You’re not just your client’s attorney. But you also remain a partner in a collective endeavor till victory or defeat. Make sure that they feel that way.
Using your book smarts with social experiences can make you skilled as an attorney in many ways. Make sure to utilize these skills to the best of your ability for both yours and your clients’ sakes.
Michael Ehline, head of the Ehline Law Firm, is a prominent Los Angeles area personal injury and product liability lawyer. He earned admittance to the bar in the same manner as Abraham Lincoln by reading the law. He writes this column as a means of guiding new and upcoming attorneys in better practices, modernization, and serving their clients.