Translations from Lawyer Talk Part Four: Speaking to The Other Side (Deal Making)

Once again, since I am all about giving back and public service, I offer these translations from legal talk (“LT”) to plain English (“PE”) to help lawyers communicate effectively with opposing counsel.  I hope that you find them helpful.

LT:          I have made some minor changes to your draft to clean up a few things.

PE:          You are a moron.  Your drafting sucks. I have re-written the entire thing so that it makes sense.

LT:          I would be happy to prepare the first draft for your review.


Translation 1:  My billings are low. I have time on my hands. I want to do it.

Translation 2:  I am swamped but at least I know how to draft.  I don’t trust you to do it properly.

Translation 3: I want to have the opportunity to slant the document in my client’s favour and then feign shock when you try to make changes that are clearly reasonable and appropriate.

LT:          I see that you were just called to the Bar.  Welcome to the profession!

PE:          I plan on stomping all over you and showing you that you are no match for me, junior.  (Also, it is going to be a hoot trying to see how much I can get past you that I wouldn’t dare try with someone of my own vintage.)

LT:          I have never, in my entire career, seen someone take that position.

PE:          Your position makes perfect sense. I have taken the same position myself many times.  I have no logical argument to make, so I am going with this nonsense. 

LT:          With the greatest respect….

PE:          I have no respect for you at all.

LT:          Honestly…

PE:          Here comes some serious B.S. …

LT:          I am looking forward to working collaboratively with you for the mutual benefit of our respective clients.

PE:          You have all the bargaining power in this situation and I’ve got nothing.  I will try to be friendly so that I may get you to give me a few crumbs in our negotiations.

LT:          Our settlement offer is more than reasonable. You know as well as I do that no court is ever going to award your client more than $50,000.00.

PE:          We have valued your claim at over $200,000.00, but we don’t think that your client has the legal budget to fight us.

LT:          I am going to cut out the games and just give you our best offer upfront. It’s ‘take it or leave it.’


Translation 1:   Here is my opening bid.  I will do much better if you threaten to walk away.

Translation 2:   It really is my best offer, you idiot.  You should take it or you will have to go explain to your client how you blew the deal.

LT:          I will have to get my client’s instructions on that, although I cannot recommend it.

PE:          I will go through the motions of telling my client what to think and getting them to confirm, and then get back to you to tell you what I said the first time.

LT:          Let me throw this idea out, but I am speaking completely without instructions and my client may not go along with it.


Translation 1: I am leaving myself an out if my client refuses to go along, but they would be an idiot if they did not agree to accept my brilliant suggestion for putting an end to this mess.

Translation 2: I have instructions to try to settle it on the terms which I am suggesting, but I don’t want you to think that you can do better than this so I will try to make it look like I have to push my client to agree to this.

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