Learn Legal English Online: Agreeing and Disagreeing
In Legal English and Business English, you will frequently have to express disagreement with somebody in formal and informal situations. Let's learn the language that lawyers and law students should use in their professional lives to negotiate and interact with colleagues and counterparts in contentious situations.
Expressing an Opinion in Legal English
In the UK, we are known for our politeness and direct disagreement is uncommon so we add phrases to express our ideas and opinions more politely. While negotiations in legal English can get heated, there are some phrases that are acceptable and some which are absolutely not. We are going to learn some of them today.
How to disagree
Before you disagree with somebody, remember to acknowledge their opinion. Make sure you that you acknowledge what the other person is saying and that you accept it is a valid argument before you disagree. This shows you are listening to the other lawyer and makes your argument stronger. Here are some phrases that you can use for this:
“I see what you’re saying but…”
“I understand where you’re coming from, but…”
“That’s a valid point, but…”
"I see what you mean, but..."
"I agree with you to a certain extent, but..."
"I suppose that could be true. However, I feel that..."
You will note that we prepare the listener for
Remember to prepare the listener for your disagreement. Another way of doing this is through apologising before you disagree. However, this can soften the impact of your argument. Here is one example:
“I’m sorry but I disagree with you about this.”
"I'm sorry but I really don't agree with you and I will explain why..."
As a lawyer, you will know that compromise is essential in any contract negotiation. Nobody should walk away from the negotiating table with a spring in their step (happy). In less formal situations, we use a phrase that allows people to end the discussion with their dignity intact:
"Let's agree to disagree."
It means that you acknowledge the other person's opinion and that you know that neither of you is likely to change your mind. Can you use it in your professional life as a lawyer? In certain situations when there is no movement on either side, yes.
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