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Translations From Legal Talk

Translations from Lawyer Talk Part Seven: Client Talk

How we interact with clients sometimes differs from how we interact with other people.  For example, I used to have a partner who played golf with clients.  His name was Drew, and he was an excellent golfer.  We always had to remind Drew that when he golfed with clients, he had to play Client Golf, a game in which he missed a few shots that he might otherwise have made.

Similarly, when speaking to clients, lawyers often communicate differently than how they may otherwise speak, using a language which we refer to as Client Talk. Here are some translations from Client Talk (“CT”) to plain English (“PE”):

Part One – Speaking to Normal Clients

CT:          You have a very interesting problem.

PE:          You have a very expensive problem.

CT:          I will need to have a student do a bit of research on this point.

PE:          I don’t have a clue and it is going to cost more.

CT:          I will need to have an associate do a bit of research on this point.

PE:          I really don’t have a clue and it is going to cost a lot more.

CT:          I will need to have one of my partners provide some input on this.

PE:          I have no fu*kg idea and this is going to get very expensive, real fast.

CT:          I would like to introduce you to my partner who is the best person in our firm to handle this type of matter. I know that you will enjoy working with him.

PE:          If I had any idea at all of how to do this myself, I would hang onto it. But I don’t so I am reluctantly handing you over to this other guy who, if I am lucky, you won’t like more than you like me.

CT:          I saw that you were in meeting with my partner. I just wanted to stop by and say hello.

PE:          I need to remind both you and my partner whose client you are.

Part Two – Speaking to Clients Who are Inhouse Counsel

CT:          I really love working with your organization.

PE:          Please send us more work.

CT:          Would you like two tickets to the hockey game?

PE:          Please send us more work.

CT:          If there is anything that I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.

PE:          Please send us more work.

CT:          Feel free to call with questions any time.  We will never charge you for answering quick questions.

PE:          Please send us more work.

CT:          I am so happy that we are building a deep and enduring relationship on both a personal and professional level.

PE:          Let’s be besties until you stop sending us work. 

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