LINGUISTICS AND THE PRACTICE OF LAW

Linguistics is the study of language. It is reflected in everything we say and what we do. Essentially, it impacts how we communicate with others. In this regard, every word can have significance; many of which are like a double-edged sword, in which there can be two completely different meanings.

To be effective in the practice of law, one must truly understand the impact EACH word has, which includes knowing how and when to be concise instead of wordy; and, to know whether we are in fact, as well as how to be, convincing instead of unpersuasive.

There is a distinction between “effective” counsel and “competent” legal representation in that the latter is legal advice and counsel without errors, such as whether the advice and representation would result in the denial of a fair trial. This is often classified as malpractice or negligence. On the other hand, one may not have departed from the elementary standards applicable to the practice of law and, therefore, not be negligent. However, one can still be “ineffective” by failing to obtain a winning result. In the practice of law and to be effective, a lawyer should strive for superior advocacy; this should apply to how one drafts legal documents; presents oral and written arguments; drafts and finalizes written communications; as well as the basic dialogues we have with those with whom we know and/or those with whom we want to influence by producing a positive response, feeling, or opinion.

It is the “art of communications” to know what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and, where is it acceptable or beneficial to do so. Additionally, one needs to know when to say no more, if only to allow the other individual an opportunity to digest what has been said and to reply, if desired.

Here are some considerations to help illustrate the above:

  • Is the same writing style and techniques in sending or responding to texts satisfactory in writing a letter, greeting card, etc.?
  • Do you communicate the same when conferring with a loved one, family member and/or friend? Are there differences when applying for a job; writing an essay or term paper for school or college; or submitting written arguments to the adversary in a case; to an organization; an arbitrator; judge; and to an administrative agency?
  • The tone of our communications can have a different impact, perhaps one that is not intended at all. The way words are expressed can lead to different meanings. For example, stating “I love you” in an angry or sarcastic voice vs. gently and softly saying the words “I love you.” Can you “hear” the difference? Try saying the same words in a different tone and you will see the reaction [the former angry tone likely will cause  a baby to cry, out of fear].
  • What about language in politics, in newspapers and television broadcasts? Are they fair and balanced?
  • In addition, should one consider the source of the communication; the activity and context in which the communication is made; as well as the credibility of the speaker or writer?
  • When is it appropriate to make a complimentary remark in contrast to ignoring what others may say or do that truly is, or seems improper?

Whether through linguistics and/or superior advocacy, the goal of a lawyer is to evoke an acceptance of an argument or obtain support for his/her argument. It is fair to say, effective legal counsel utilizes a combination of compelling and cogent language with logic and reasoning. Essentially, this involves both the “art of communication (linguistics)” and the “art of negotiation.”

 

Canadian Government Legalizes Marijuana

On October 17, 2018, the Federal Government of Canada legalized cannabis. At best, this is a national experiment and controversial legislation. Clearly, the tax profits available to the Canadian government are enormous,  and the vast numbers of businesses devoted to the production, distribution and sales of marijuana seem boundless.  And, the question of health to adults and youth using cannabis continues to be in dispute.

The proliferation of businesses engaged in the promotion and marketing are restricted from using techniques and procedures to attract younger demographics, however, opponents contend this is a slippery slope in which  informational materials and brand marketing are sending a message to Canadians that marijuana is acceptable, perhaps confusing those who might otherwise have decided to not smoke cigarettes. And, there still remains doubt as to whether and to what extent one’s ability to safely operate equipment, machinery, and automobiles may be impaired.

While there are unanswered questions regarding the short and long term consequences of using marijuana,  many in the health profession continue to develop campaigns to alert the public as to the health and other risks associated with cannabis. Undoubtedly, this is a topic under consideration now and in the future by the representatives in the United States Government, and other countries.

SUPERIOR ADVOCACY

How does one define the role of a lawyer? What are your expectations? Do you want an average lawyer or a truly great attorney? Here is a list of questions you might want to ask yourself and the lawyer with whom you consult:

  1. Do you want a lawyer who is pro-active, meticulous and believes in YOU?
  2. Are you intent on seeking the advice of a highly regarded attorney with boundless experience; superior knowledge and skills; is smart and knows how to persuasively articulate the case on your behalf?
  3. Do you place more value on the fees and cost of the lawyer, or are the primary factors both the direct impact of the case and the unintended consequences, now and in the future?
  4. Using objective criteria, one can read about the rating for the attorney; client reviews; attorney endorsements; full resume, including the nature, frequency and number of total and recent awards.
  5. Do you have the utmost trust and confidence in the lawyer with whom you consult, seek legal advice and representation? One of the ways to determine the character, expertise, history, and winning results can be evaluated by viewing the description and details at, and click the following link as it regards the author, on www.Avvo.com, which is a national legal directory that provides profiles of nearly every lawyer in the United States.
  6. Does your selection of an attorney also encompass whether the lawyer has respect for YOU as a valued individual, instead of  you just being another “case?”
  7. Does the lawyer have a genuine care and appreciation of YOU and your legal issue(s)?
  8. Do you want to retain a lawyer who works long and hard to solely refute, dispel or deny wrongdoing?
  9. Would you prefer a lawyer who not only does the obvious by presenting a thorough defense, but also pursues a comprehensive “offense,” which can involve a painstaking effort to marginalize the charges, allegations, as well as the inferences and conclusions?
  10. Is the attorney mindful of YOUR best interests?
  11. Despite the huge responsibilities a lawyer has to protect your rights and advance your interests, do you want an attorney who not only creates an action plan for himself/herself, but gives YOU a detailed roadmap and plan of action that focuses on what is best about YOU; your redeeming qualities; and, who involves you as an integral part of the “team,” instead of you not being actively involved?
  12. Do you want a lawyer who takes a huge number of cases (as an assembly line) and, therefore, does less on each one and charges less? On the other hand, many clients’ primary goal is to have a lawyer who has a deep commitment, is hard working, considers the advantage of a thorough investigation, research, analysis, strategizing, and has an online presence establishing their proven record.

In summary, take sufficient quality time to research the lawyer you are considering, focus on the impact the outcome can have on YOU now and in the future, rather than solely upon the costs in retaining an attorney. This situation may be a defining moment in YOUR personal and professional life. Give a great deal of weight to the objective facts set forth in the lawyer’s ratings,  attorney’s integrity,  respect by other lawyers and admiration by the countless past and current clients who have provided consistent testimonials month after month, year after year to document the knowledge, experience, skills, concern, and overwhelming energy, along with documented and proven results. Your family, friends, associates, and particularly YOU deserve superior advocacy.

Compelling and Cogent Legal Arguments

All of us from time to time have read magazines, newspapers and articles. It strains credulity, however, that far too much of what has been written is not sufficiently balanced to provide the reader with a true and accurate narrative. Even worse are long winded and/or rambling legal arguments some lawyers may assert to the Court or declare in their Legal Briefs, Motions, Points and Authorities, and other written documents. In addition to the necessity to provide interesting, insightful and easily understood writing, these presentations simply do not rise to the level of being deemed “good writing.”

Also, the statements and arguments a lawyer makes should be cogent, which means they should be powerful and effective. A lawyer’s role is to not simply state events in a narrative, but should present compelling arguments that are truly persuasive. Here, articulating facts, circumstances, statements and arguments should, but unfortunately may not always, be convincing.

Whether one is successful in these tasks may be in the eye of the beholder. However, those who spend countless and painstaking hours to think about and analyze their roles and responsibilities before framing what they intend to communicate may indeed have a better opportunity to obtain winning results. Moreover, they can provide the reader with impressive thoughts and ideas. Some may choose to utilize metaphors, insert something humorous and/or use other tools and skills to convey the subject matter and their information. While this may in certain ways be different, the goal is to benefit their respective clients who may thereby realize the outcome they desire.

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