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Six English phrases that lawyers should never use

Nothing spoils a presentation or speech more than hearing a lawyer or academic use a phrase more suitable for the playground than a room filled with fellow professionals.  In the 7000 years that language has been around, are international lawyers really still saying:  "I was like..."?


Poor choice of words is unrprofessional and is likely to distract from your message.  In academic English, you will frequently hear the term 'register', which means that you should use formal and informal language depending on the situation.  


Here are some key phrases that anybody seeking to become an accomplished Legal English speaker should avoid.  


1.  "Basically"

Although basically the intention of this word is to convey that you are trying to make things as easy as possible for the listener, it has now become overused and you will find some people using it before every sentence.  Feel free to blame these people for the fact that you cannot use this word any more but look for other words to use instead such as "As I see it".


2.  "Yeah?" (or other similar tag questions)

While tag questions can come across as strong if used correctly, professionals who make a statement and then say yes or yeah at the end of it can appear weak.  There is no need to seek validation of what you are saying as this lessens the impact of your words.


3.  "Um, you know"

Take a look at the YouTube film of David Beckham on a BBC talk show.  He used to say 'you know' frequently (probably due to a lack of confidence) but has improved now.  People will notice if you use this phrase too often in your speech and you should seek to eradicate it.

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4.  Buzzwords

Buzzwords are words such as 'out of the box' and 'synergy' and are used throughout the business and legal worlds.  Sometimes they become part of the language and sometimes they disappear as quickly as they arrived into the lexicon but we would argue against using them as many people consider them to be cliched and annoying.


5.  Kind of/Kinda

"We could kind of do it this way" is unacceptable because it sounds unconfident and lacks authority.  If you are suggesting or recommending something, it is far better to own it rather than acting meekly.


6.  I am not racist, but

To begin with, you shouldn't be saying those words anywhere near the workplace but any sort of complaint or whining is unacceptable and shows negativity.  Avoid anything like this.



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