Words have Meaning; People Want Ideas

There are two things I’m currently contemplating while avoiding outlining: the first is that Mock Trail is a greatly underappreciated law school experience.

I say this because sometimes I feel like the way people are taught to communicate in law school, is only affective in a legal environment. For us, there is great power in words;  they have meaning, they are power. Winning and losing in a legal situations depends on the definition of a word you can convince other people to take. Unfortunately, not everyone we’ll be dealing with have the same approach to communication. For example, the other day I spoke to business professional with 20 years of intrapreneurship experience with Intel. His pet peeve when speaking to lawyers were their insistence on exact definitions of terms such as ‘partners’ and ‘partnerships.’ In his mind, as long as the idea is understood, it doesn’t matter what words are used.

Now at this point, some of you are arguing that the words are the ideas, that we can’t fully understand anything unless the proper words are being used. This is true, but it is also true that a person’s client may firmly believe that their words are being used correctly. He or she may broadly/incorrectly define certain terms and it’s up to you, as their lawyer, to clarify what ideas are being stated. This is where Mock Trail competitions come into play.

Mock Trail forces you to really think about your audience. As a competitor, you must understand that you’re not just speaking to a judge and opposing counsel, you’re also speaking to jury members. In real life, the members of jury are just normal people. You can’t go to heavily on the emotional side of the argument or else you run the risk of being overly sentimental. You can’t get to technical with opening or you run the risk of losing the jury. Regardless of what you decide, you have to keep in mind that everything you say can be used as ammo to he opposing counsel.

The second thing I’ve been thinking about is how I never seem to come up with smooth way to end any of my post. Oh, well.


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