Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Being Articulate

Being articulate is not just an interview key; it is necessa nighthawk03/08/17
ah, g' fk ya'elf dingbat03/08/17
Or just go do doc review, which would amount to the same thi nighthawk03/08/17
i speek gud 3lol03/08/17
i speek more goodly than u jonthomas03/09/17
I wish people would stop saying "I feel you." I don't want y fettywap03/08/17
if you have ever hadthe experience of getting back a court t defensivelawyer03/08/17
I have to laugh, I had the exact same experience. It's a wei thirdtierlaw03/08/17
I'd add that context is important. I've seen depositions whe loser1203/08/17
Our court reporters often make an attorney sound much more c guyingorillasuit03/08/17
Video depositions are the best to see the difference of what cocolawyer03/09/17
While there are many attorneys who ramble during litigation adamb03/14/17
Indubitably, I concur that keen articulation whilst in oral isthisit03/09/17
Maybe not Hemingway, because you also want your writing to b 3lol03/09/17
Ouch. So how about Cormac McCarthy on the papers? isthisit03/09/17
If you want an epic takedown of McCarthy read the essay A Re adamb03/14/17
It's been said that it is better to be articulate, than neve wutwutwut03/09/17
nighthawk (Mar 8, 2017 - 12:42 pm)

Being articulate is not just an interview key; it is necessary for interacting with people at the office. Saying "ya know" all the time is a bad habit. "It's like, ya know like whatever, ya know, I don't know like ya." People who have these habits need to break them and articulate. It can hurt you.

The same is applicable for drafting a brief or an email. If you are trying to make a point with a colleague/client/opposing counsel/other party then you need to articulate yourself properly in writing. Use thesis sentences and active voice. The message will be stronger and more effective, reducing or eliminating the need for follow-up calls.

It seems that a number of people have difficulty with this. Perhaps Above the Law should give a workshop webinar about this issue.

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dingbat (Mar 8, 2017 - 4:50 pm)

ah, g' fk ya'elf

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nighthawk (Mar 8, 2017 - 5:04 pm)

Or just go do doc review, which would amount to the same thing.

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3lol (Mar 8, 2017 - 4:55 pm)

i speek gud

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jonthomas (Mar 9, 2017 - 11:48 pm)

i speek more goodly than u

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fettywap (Mar 8, 2017 - 5:39 pm)

I wish people would stop saying "I feel you." I don't want you to feel me. You already have sexual harassment problems.

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defensivelawyer (Mar 8, 2017 - 6:16 pm)

if you have ever hadthe experience of getting back a court transcript of an argument you’ve made,you may be shocked at how utterly incoherent you sound. Years ago, I was astonished that what I said barely sounded like English when recorded. Since that time, I have become much more conscious of speaking in shorter, coherent sentences. In my mind, I keep track of the lengths of sentences I speak. I put a period in my mind at the end of the sentence I am speaking and taking a breath. This works wonders in producing a transcript that is in comprehensible English when speaking out loud to a judge or jury. Iam not claiming that this makes my arguments powerful, but merely coherent and in recognizeable English. This communication is then in a form potentially understandable to others who speak English. A tremendous step in theright direction if the goal is to persuade. This one trick, speaking in comprehensible English, will put you ahead of a good 80% of your competitors.

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thirdtierlaw (Mar 8, 2017 - 6:37 pm)

I have to laugh, I had the exact same experience. It's a weird phenomenon. But I've come to believe that written and spoken language can be very different. I've listened to recordings of a hearing and it didn't sound weird. But then I'd receive the written transcript and I'm trying to figure out what on earth happened.

I feel bad for the people who do my appellate work.

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loser12 (Mar 8, 2017 - 7:15 pm)

I'd add that context is important. I've seen depositions where the better lawyer never makes eye contact with the witness, reads off a page, speaks in a monotone and seems like they have no social skills.

When you read the transcript, you realize the one who speaks better is the weaker lawyer. The one acting autistic is just paying close attention to the actual words, and if the witness gives a body language tell they're lying, co-counsel will tap them on the shoulder. At an interview, I'd imagine the autistic one is much less autistic.

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guyingorillasuit (Mar 8, 2017 - 9:43 pm)

Our court reporters often make an attorney sound much more coherent in the transcript if they like the attorney. I don't know if that's the case everywhere else.

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cocolawyer (Mar 9, 2017 - 4:27 pm)

Video depositions are the best to see the difference of what you say sounds like and how those exact words look transcribed. It's an eye opener.

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adamb (Mar 14, 2017 - 2:44 pm)

While there are many attorneys who ramble during litigation due to nerves, poor preparation, or lack of talent, I have noticed that court reporters vary in accuracy -- sometimes a lot.

While all of us sound a little less polished when speaking off the cuff than we do when writing edited prose, I have confirmed my suspicions that court reporters frequently leave out words from sentences, type the wrong word, mis-punctuate, etc. For example, I had submitted a brief a few months ago from a trial where my opening was short, prewritten, and canned (because it was one of those wait-and-see reasonable doubt defenses). I have the opening on my flashdrive. When comparing my copy with the record, the record is a butchered and garbled version where the stenographer frequently typed the wrong word (but one that sounds similar or starts with a similar sound).

I know that I am not misperceiving, as all of us do when remembering ourselves. When I watch my oral arguments on youtube from the Court of Appeals, I cringe at my dramatic hand gestures during the first few minutes (nerves) and my b!tchy response to a stupid question (judge had both the facts and law wrong, so I corrected him a little too enthusiastically). These things happen in the moment, we learn and refine.

But I do not speak in the weird garbled rambles that I have seen at least in three transcripts of my cases (all trial courts with a stenographer whose first language may not be English).

To contrast: In the appellate courts, where the stenographers are higher quality with lower workloads, the transcript reflects the way that I normally speak.

While we all may ramble on occasion when we are exhausted by week's end, you still may not sound as bad as the transcript reflected - as stenographers can be scarily inaccurate.

The NY COA transcribes from recordings since all cases are streamed live. Trial courts should mic the attorneys (judge and witnesses already have mics in our courts). Then a smaller pool of higher quality transcribers could correct the computerize recording (since computers can transcribe pretty accurately already with minimal correction or reformatting).

Edit: Mics can fit on the collar or tie with a small magnet and can be turned of easily during off-the-record discussions.

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isthisit (Mar 9, 2017 - 12:32 pm)

Indubitably, I concur that keen articulation whilst in oral presentation is quite difficult for the novice practitioner.

Aim to be the Hemingway of law on paper and in court, minus the shotgun and alcoholism.

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3lol (Mar 9, 2017 - 1:00 pm)

Maybe not Hemingway, because you also want your writing to be compelling.

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isthisit (Mar 9, 2017 - 1:53 pm)

Ouch.

So how about Cormac McCarthy on the papers?

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adamb (Mar 14, 2017 - 2:50 pm)

If you want an epic takedown of McCarthy read the essay A Reader's Manifesto by BR Myers. His writing is pretentious and overwrought and often boring.

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wutwutwut (Mar 9, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

It's been said that it is better to be articulate, than never.

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