Friday, March 09, 2007

Talk Like a Lawyer?

Trial attorneys and litigators of nearly every stripe will often tout how important it is to speak plainly, and how it is better to avoid legal jargon. Most unfortunately do not practice what is preached.

I'm reviewing a deposition transcript this morning and I'm getting a headache. Defense counsel has asked these gems: "Remembering that you are under oath, please describe the nature and permanency of the alleged personal injuries suffered by you in this negligence action." The reply was, "I don't understand what you just asked me."

Another: "What if any exacerbation of any pre-existing emotional condition are you claiming as a result of this negligence action?" His reply was that there was no "exasperation."

Have I described you?

Long ago I learned one basic question that I now always ask. Lefferts Mabie always began questioning with "tell us who you are." Better than, "please state your full legal name for the record."