Lawyering Skills

Jun 08, 2020

Is Clients’ Time More Valuable Than Lawyers’ Time?

The answer is the Clients' time is more valuable Clients pay lawyers for their specialty and expertise in the legal field. Lawyers spends hours and effort crafting legal advice, drafting up transaction documents and conducting legal representation. Whose time that is more valuable is often misinterpreted.

“As words are the most fundamental tool lawyers use to gain advantage for their clients. The constant question for a lawyer is how to use words to cause a result, whether in court, in negotiation, in drafting a contract or a will, or in writing an appellate court.” 

Lawyers communicate and turn words into specialized languages that help gain a privileged position for their clients. Lawyers’ writing such specialized languages has been mysterious for years. If clients has trouble understanding lawyers’ writing, it is clients’ fault. This is probably because of cultural differences in writing styles in each jurisdictions or mysterious privilege uniquely reserved for lawyers.

Good writing is not mysterious. Lawyers’ writing should be treated alike as a layman can understand what is being conveyed by lawyers. To serve clients’ best interest, cultural differences in writing and mysterious privilege play no part of its professional prominence, instead of focusing on effective writing only. 

 

Let’s look at cultural differences in writing style, focusing on whose time is more valuable. 

Writer-Responsible

Reader-Responsible

Primary responsibility for successful communication lies with writer

Primary responsibility for successful communication lies with reader

If the reader has trouble understanding, it is writer’s fault

If the reader has trouble understanding, it is reader’s fault

Writers are expected to work at being clear

Writer may intentionally obscure meaning, good writing often has an element of mystery to it

Writers are expected to present their ideas in ways that can be easily understood

reader are expected to work at understanding what is written

Wring clear sentences that can be understood the first time they read is expected

Reader do not expect sentences that can be easily understood the first time they are read

Being able to make a complicated topic easy for a reader to understand is admired

Not fully grasping a writer’s intended meaning does not frustrate these readers

Why Clients’ time is more valuable?

Richard K. Newman explain why the Clients’ time is more valuable as follows:

First, the reader must make a decision and wants from you exactly the materials needed for the decision - not less and not more.

Second, the reader is a busy person, must read quickly, and cannot afford to read twice.

Third, the reader is aggressive skeptical and will search for any gap or weakness in your analysis (skepticism simply causes better decision).

Fourth, the ready will be disgusted by sloppiness, imprecision, inaccuracy, or anything that impede the readers’ decision making process or hints that you might be unreliable. 

Fifth, the reader will be conservative about matters of grammar, style, citation form, and document format.

Let’s conclude this observation by citing the following wisdom: “…If obscurity and other faults in your writing distract the reader’s attention, you and your client will suffer for several reason. First, bad writing is not read. Second, a lawyer who writes badly is often assumed to be mediocre and unreliable. Third, the busy reader may misunderstand what you are trying to say.”


Rudy Bui

Rudy Bui is Scholar, Young Lawyer, and Member of Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA 2015) and International Bar Association (IBA 2017). In addition, Rudy Bui is also Member of Ho Chi Minh Bar Association, Vietnam Bar Federation, Vietnam Business Lawyers' Club (VBLC), Mentee of Young ICCA - Mentoring Program 2016-2017.



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