“Lawyer-speak” or “legalese” is an infamous language style characterized by legal terminology, complex sentence structures, and formal conventions. Although it is precise, legalese is often difficult to understand. For example, whereas in casual English one might say, "You must pay the rent on time," in lawyer-speak the same instruction might be relayed as, “The lessee is obligated to remit the monthly rental payment on or before the specified due date stipulated in the lease agreement."
So, when we talk about effective communication in law firms, one of the aspects we’re referring to is turning complex legal jargon into a language everyone can understand. In other words, effective lawyers break down intricate legal concepts to make them comprehensible for clients, colleagues, and anyone who doesn’t know a tort from a tart. After all, when it comes to client relations, success isn’t only measured by the number of cases won; it's about being able to decipher legal mysteries for clients who trust you to act in their best interests. Clear communication is one way to keep that trust alive.
But a successful law firm isn’t only about clients. Effective communication is also the glue that holds the team together. Legal matters are like group projects—everyone has a role, and if someone isn’t on the right page due to a messaging breakdown, chaos ensues. On the other hand, when everyone is in sync, says wellness and life coach Allaya Cooks-Campbell, the office will reap the following benefits:
Better Engagement - Communication establishes personal connections, encourages feedback, and conveys the company's objectives and vision, all of which lead to better employee engagement.
Increased Morale - Effective communication empowers team members, gives them a sense of belonging and responsibility, and helps build camaraderie.
Improved Productivity - Good communication helps team members understand their roles and therefore perform them better, which in turn saves time and resources.
Reduced Turnover - A 2019 study by employee engagement platform Peakon found that the number one thing employees said they were dissatisfied with at work was poor communication, and dissatisfaction almost inevitably leads to turnover.
Better Collaboration - Collaboration can’t occur without communication. How can a team pursue and reach a common goal without the effective exchange of information and ideas?
Fewer Workplace Conflicts - Clear communication can prevent misunderstandings and therefore avert work-related conflict.
Successful law firms practice effective communication that simplifies legal language, enhances teamwork, and propels success. Clear communication boosts client trust, improves results, and cultivates a productive, unified workplace.
Margaret Burke is the President and Founder of MB Law Firm Consulting. She specializes in managing operations, finance, HR, IT, and business development to improve law firm operations, streamline processes and scale revenue. She has advised and led acquisitions, relocations, succession planning, restructuring and start-ups.