How to talk like a lawyer / law student without being one?

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(Lord Denning – the maverick Court of Appeal judge who is ahead of his time and controversial too. Image source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/)

Let’s admit it…not all of us is a lawyer or law student.

However there are times when we want to talk as if we have a Bachelor of Law in our pockets. Moreover when we are in heat of an argument with the salesgirl on how the “law” prohibits high prices (during a mega sale) and you want to “sue” the shop. Or when we are discussing about the new laws passed by the Parliament which is on the newspaper front pages for the last 1 week. Sometimes, we just want to impress our friends during a “teh tarik” session.

Don’t worry, as a corporate lawyer myself, and inspired by Simon’s Smart Answers to Difficult Questions!, I have some tips which you may want to use during your conversations.

When it is your turn after your friend has finished his sentence on an issue, you reply:-

1. “And your point is?” (and wait for the response)

2. “I don’t see it that way….” (continue with the rest of the replies below)

3. “It depends on your definition of…” (give your opinion on “both side of the coin”, you can never go wrong)

4. “It is possible under equity law…” (without explaining why it is possible. Your friends will spend the time figuring out what is equity law)

5. “If it is under the UK law, then is a different story…” (since your friends may never know what is the actual UK law and you can make an imaginary law, you can never go wrong)

6. “You know what, Lord Denning in the UK Court of Appeal said the exact same thing…” (unless your friend is a REAL lawyer or a REAL law student, your friend may never know who is Lord Denning [who is a REAL person by the way])

7. “Actually the AG (Attorney General in case people ask you) is reviewing the statute…” (yes, use legal jargon word like “statute” instead of layman’s word “law”. You may add some Latin words here and there like “pari passu”, “habeas corpus”, “in absentia”, “locus standi” and bluff on their meaning)

8. “Legal opinion is currently divided over this matter…” (once again, give your opinion on “both side of the coin”, you can never go wrong)

9. “Yes, I read about in the Act and lets put it this way, the Section can be interpreted in either ways…” (once again for the 2nd time, give your opinion on “both side of the coin”, you can never go wrong)

10. “I spoke to my lawyer friend and we kind of argued on the matter last night and what he saying is that ….and what I am saying is that…” (once again for the 3rd time, give your opinion on “both side of the coin”, you can never go wrong)

You will note from the above that being lawyer or law student means you really need not have the real answer.

And oh yes, drop the word “lah” if you really want to impress.

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21 thoughts on “How to talk like a lawyer / law student without being one?

  1. Tha hall mark of abject unmitigate ignorance. Plain English is what real lawyers engage in so that the subject and the objects of their discussion understand fairly whats being said.

    Who taught you this about lawyers? a law degree does not make anyone a lawyer.

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      1. legally speaking, there is no such profession as “lawyer”
        a law student or jurist can be considered a lawyer
        passing Msian bar makes one an attorney and solicitor

        nice article though

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      2. Experience and continually updating your skills in the law. Not a law degree or admission to practice. The former is testament to having satisfied university examiners you have attained a level of proficiency at an academic level set by them in the subjects that make up that degree course. The latter is likewise testament to your having satisfied the requirements for admission to a body of practitioners. It does not make you a lawyer.

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          1. This business of “chill out” you use continually out of context to stifle a response is interesting. Yet you claim to be a lawyer or a “corporate lawyer”. None of your other posts and responses elicit such a response why? are you writing to yourself and responding to your own comments or does a response unsettle you?

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          2. Well, if you are looking for a serious discussion in law by a serious full time lawyer using serious language of the law, I am sorry to say this, this blog is not the one for you – not all readers to this blog are lawyers (please read through the FAQ page). I am sure if you google around, you find a blog that will do the necessary justification to your serious legal mind. Your past comments are most welcomed and noted. Thanks again.

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    1. Look B. Joe if you are embarrassed that’s fine. Lawyers do not have to talk in any particular way other than to be precise in their language and to be informed of their subject matter.

      Educated people, reasonable people and people who take care of what they say or do are no different to lawyers in how they speak or conduct themselves in their interaction with others.

      What other site has “serious discussion” you speak of? What happens here and what we are currently trying to sort out is serious. Are you saying that unless one agrees wholeheartedly with you and heap praise on you in whatever it is you write here, we are not welcome? Well you clearly do not understand the purpose and character of the internet. Censorship in any form is a poor reflection on the owner of a public website and forum as this. I trust we could get along and you demonstrate those skills you say you have. I am sure you do have those skills. Lets be civil and share whatever skills we have with others.

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      1. Seriously I am not sure what is your problem with the post here (and it was done more than 7 years ago!)…if you think you can come with a better one, by all means post it in your blog and I will link them here (or put it up in the comment section here and I will give the spot that it deserves)

        As I have said in my previous reply, if you are looking for a serious discussion in law by a serious full time lawyer using serious language of the law (I probably should add “precise in their language and to be informed of their subject matter” into list of criterias), I am sorry to say this, this blog may not the one for you – sorry to disappoint you (if you are insisting on it). I do write for myself and happy to share with others. You are free to continue to follow on the posts on this blog, write in your blog (I presume you have one) or google for other sites that may be more interest to you (there are probably millions of blogs out there by now).

        And I don’t know where you get the idea that I am feeling embarrassed or insist on people agreeing with whatever I am saying in my posts (p.s. that is not difficult to do – I just need to disable commenting function or reject all those “negative” comments in the moderation but I don’t do that unless it is spam or language is too vulgar). I had never insisted – yes, I do counter argue if I disagree but never insisted on anyone to agree to my comments. It is up to them to agree or disagree and there are a number of comments (sorry not from you) who have strongly disagreed and made valid and refreshing points (and I am looking forward to see more that in my blog)

        And finally, interesting last 2 lines in your comments – oh, well, I am sure I will see the same from you in the future as well.Cheers and thanks

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        1. Joe I simply do not understand. Yours is a blog. What blog exlcudes people by saying go elsewhere? I visit blogs, especially those run by Malaysians and make comments on it. I will continue to comment on your blog too. It adds to the diversity that is blogsphere and perhaps we could all be happy. You could respond to my entries and thats fine too. I think that should settle it.

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          1. Precisely my point! I shall not go further other than the fact that if one is not happy with the contents, you can disagree with it and comment on it but if you keep harping on it, then I can’t do much there. I can only fine tune the existing post (if I think it is necessary to clarify or to explain further or facts used was proven to be wrong) or note your disagreement and move on. Thanks

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  2. Lawyers are by their education and training required to be precise in their words and in the way they write (written expression). The way in which this post on Lord Denning is dealt with here makes it clear that on the one hand one of the two in this posting is a lawyer by accident whilst the other who initiated the question about Lord Denning is at least intelligent enough to admit he is neither law student nor lawyer. Both are equally embarrassing in how they express themselves. Typos excluded.

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  3. 80% of lawyers hide behind language, 20% use language to make their point and get their way. If you are talking about ‘sounding like a lawyer’, that’s t.v. and business speak. Talk to a bad a$$ Plaintiff’s attorney, you’ll get a pretty quick education on the power of language and how a skilled individual uses it to achieve an objective. Many non-lawyers sound like real lawyers, most lawyers simply don’t sound like much of anything.

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  4. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it. This website has got some really useful info on it! I was looking for this. It was excellent and very informative. As a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed and I found a lot of informative stuff in your article. Thanks for posting. PLEASE keep it up!

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  5. was looking for some actual help..am representing my self in court and didn’t want to be imbarrassed.Tried looking for actual trials to watch and learn from.

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