Talking to non-lawyers is just better communication skills. Lawyers seem to unlearn how to communicate directly, or like a human, during law school. But you can talk about the law, and give advice, and explain complex ideas, in a way that help people understand the issue and want to work with you.
Using legal jargon and large words does not make you sound smarter.
The legal jargon and large words may have been fun to learn, like you were joining a special club, when you became a lawyer. So use them with your colleagues and law school friends, not with your clients.
Using words that your client doesn’t understand may make it less likely that they will ask the questions they need to ask you – because they are embarrassed that they haven’t understood you.
It actually takes more intelligence to understand a topic thoroughly and then break it down to teach someone else, than it does to recite a paragraph of legal precedent. Explaining yourself clearly and in language that an be understood is one of the best skills that you can develop.
Give some useful, practical advice.
If you are giving legal advice, don’t be like a text book. Give your advice context and apply it to your client’s real situation.
Given that you’re also a human, and capable of empathy, when giving advice about the real situation, remember you don’t have to confine yourself to legal advice. As a human, you are also qualified to give practical advice and information from your own experience.
It’s sometimes these little tips about how a client can approach a conversation, or how they can prepare themselves, that will have the biggest impact.
Have the hard conversations.
As a lawyer, you job is to give the advice that needs to be heard. You should be able to deliver advice directly, don’t skirt around talking about death or financial ruin, or other consequences.
while you should talk about the hard topics with little emotion, you can still be gentle while being direct. Just don’t avoid the conversation.
If you raise what your client needs to hear, and you do it in a direct manner, it confers you more trust and authority.
If you do these three things, your communication will improve, the way you talk about the law will improve, and people are more likely to want to work with you.