Keeping it simple doesn’t make you a simpleton


In your job as an attorney, one of your top priorities is to get people to understand you and see that you understand them. That’s true whether you’re negotiating, speaking on stage or in front of a jury, or writing a brief, a blog post or a demand letter. 

Generally, that requires being clear and precise, using simple words, and presenting your ideas in a logical order. 

But it can take some work to get it right. 

When I first started practicing, I thought I needed to impress people with a big vocabulary and a formal writing style. I wanted to sound like a lawyer but, looking back, I’m sure I either confused people or made them laugh. 

How did I change my wicked ways? First, by deciding it was important, and then rewriting, editing and polishing again and again until I found the right balance. 

I worked at it and still do today. Because it’s worth it. 

Unless there is a very good reason for using a formal writing style, or a ten-dollar word when a .50 cent word will do, don’t do it. It makes you look like you’re trying to impress people and makes people wonder why you feel the need to do that. 

Similarly, don’t dumb down your message, or use emoticons or the latest buzzwords just because all the cool kids do. 

You’re a lawyer. Sound like one. Just not one one who is overly impressed with themself.