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Tone of Voice

by | Aug 21, 2020 | blog | 0 comments

Team members smiling

This is a guide designed for our team, but we also want the world to see it. When we say ‘the world’ we predominantly mean our lawyer friends and clients.

Democratising Law

See, lawyers are special. The language they use is very special. And by special, we unfortunately mean painful. We have been (expensively) trained for years to speak in ‘code’, or ‘legalese’ as it’s often called. ‘Legalese’ is reserved for lawyers and the complicated, technical nature of it means that other non-lawyers are left confused by the jargon. This is weird considering that the stuff written in legal documents is mostly meant for other people, and rarely the lawyers themselves.

As you might know, The Law Boutique is on a mission to change the way the legal industry works. We don’t like how something as necessary as legal services has become something that only the super-rich or super-desperate can afford. It needs to be democratised, and that democratisation must start from within.

Many lawyers say they have a ‘plain English policy’, but we really mean it. We firmly believe that legal language doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be serious and legally binding, but it must also be simple. A court will not look at a contract that has the word ‘notwithstanding’ in it and interpret it more favourably than if it said, ‘in spite of’ or ‘although’.

A real-life example

In 2010, US lawyer Sean Flammer asked 800 circuit court judges to choose which argument was best framed. One was a traditional ‘legalese’ argument; the other was in what he called ‘plain English’.

The judges overwhelmingly preferred the plain English version (66% to 34%), and that preference held no matter their age or background. The respondents also said that they thought the plain English author was more believable, better educated and worked for a prestigious law firm.

In conclusion, plain English makes you more popular, more believable and also makes you sound clever too.

Google also helped itself – this was a huge PR piece for the company, with a number of mainstream media outlets running stories on it. The game also receives over 270 million plays a month (which is ridiculous!).

Warmth v Competence

Why are lawyers like this?

We take a user-focused approach

Case study

Obiter dictum

Lets have a chat

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