But you’re a lawyer …

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But you’re a lawyer …

We have a weird relationship with lawyers.

If I mention my secret law degree, I generally get one of the following:

  • Joke about prosecuting criminals / selling my soul / ambulance chasing. (These are all very funny, by the way.)
  • Interrogation about how to save the world
  • The question: Why don’t you have a lawyer job, then?
  • Potted history of current insurance conundrum, or beef with their local council and a request for advice on a solution.

To the last of these, my response is invariably ‘Um … dunno’ and their response is ‘But you’re a lawyer.’

The other day, I sat on the figurative fence about whether law was a science or a language. Instead of categorising lawyers as Corporate Types or Helpful Types—as we seem to do—what if we thought about people with legal training in terms of ones that did science and ones that did language?

The science ones are the ones that know the nuts and bolts of a field of law—the mechanics. They draw up contracts, know about court processes and are the sort you’d call if you found a snail in your lemonade.

The language types mightn’t be working as lawyers at all. But they work with the law every day. They interpret legislation, think about policy, write web content or factsheets about legal concepts for people that aren’t—but need to be—familiar with that stuff. This is me, I guess.

I remember explaining the judicial system and the concept of precedent law over the phone to an angry man who just wanted to know why he couldn’t get a tax refund. I remember doing first edit on a community legal centre booklet on how Queensland laws worked—targeted at a gay, lesbian and transgender audience. These days, I spend a lot of time explaining tenure and why land can’t just change hands because of a handshake over a beer

So East Edit won’t draw up your contract for you. We won’t give you legal advice. And we certainly won’t go to court with you. Unless you really need someone to help you find the right building (though I’m not much good at that either).

What we will do is help you get your legal message out there as simply as possible. You can be the science bit—the what. And we will be the language bit—the how.

Community legal centres: if you need a writing or editing service that we can do, it’ll be free of charge. Just talk to us.

By | 2016-12-27T23:01:58+00:00 March 22nd, 2015|Legal writing, Personal|0 Comments

About the Author:

Minnie has a Master of Public and International Law degree, and specialises in writing for vulnerable audiences—making complex policy meaningful to those who need it most.

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