When you’re used to using legal terms day in and day out, it’s easy to start habitually speaking in legalese.
However, unless you’re in the company of other legal professionals (our condolences), using archaic words and phrases only frustrates and confuses your clients, and at worst, makes them believe you’re just trying to sound smart or justify higher legal fees.
We’re not saying that these terms shouldn’t be used (in the right context), but if you’re speaking to a client for the first time and you drop any of the below phrases and words without explanation, they’ll be too busy googling what you’re saying to hear a word of your advice.
If you’re throwing around the term liability without first explaining to your client that it relates to legal responsibility, then you’re the liability.
2. In Trust
No faster way to lose trust than to confuse a client with this term without explaining that it means “held and protected by one person on behalf of another person”.
If you think anyone enjoys it when you use the term prejudice outside of a Jane Austen book club, that’s your pride talking. Just say “harm or injury”.
4. Bona Fide
Using a term like bona fide instead of saying “acting in good faith” or “without an intention to deceive” will make you sound like a bona fide snob.
5. Ex Parte
If you throw around terms like Ex Parte without explaining that it means “without notice to the other party”, we assume you don’t get notice of any Part(i)e(s).
The only time a lawyer should be using the term tort without an explanation is if it the word has an e attached to the end and comes with a spoon.
7. Subsequently or Consequently
Just say “after”, “so”, or “then”. For example, after reading this article, you decided to stop speaking like a English child prince.
If you tell your client they may need to “indemnify” another party instead of “compensate them for harm or loss suffered”, then you need to compensate them for suffering your company.
9. Inter alia
There’s no excuse for this one – it’s not even a term of art. If you say “inter alia” instead of “among other things”, you should, among other things, stop confusing your clients.
10. Common Law
Unless you’ve been living with your client for the past two years in a marriage-like relationship, there’s no benefit to using the phrase “Common Law”, and you’ll get nothing but a blank stare if you cite “common law principles”. Try “judge made law” or “previous court decisions”.
At macushlaw, we strive to make the law accessible and approachable. If you need a document translated from legalese, or you want an agreement drafted in as plain english as possible, contact Naz Khodarahmi for a complimentary consultation. You can book a consult through www.macushlaw.ca through our booking system or contact Naz at [email protected] or 604-612-8024.