From the Editor: This is a guest post from a member of the MerusCase family specializing in Personal Injury cases out of Tampa, FL. While we obviously agree wholeheartedly with at least one of his choices (thanks for the nod, Scott), some specifics will vary from firm to firm. Enjoy!Read More
|Legalese is even older than this.|
"When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men’s minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind." -Cicero, Roman politician and lawyer. A major influence on the Latin language.
"By 2100, about half the world’s languages will be lost, say linguists; one dies every 14 days. Don’t bet legalese will be among them." Why is this the case?
Today we're going to take a close look at Legal English, sometimes referred to pejoratively as "legalese". We're going to take a look at what legalese is, the history of it, and why the legal tech industry is working hard to disrupt it.
Legal English is a more formal version of the English language, with different logic and grammar rules from Standard English. Certain words have different meaning in a Legal English context. For example, in Legal English "consideration" refers to something of value that is exchanged between two parties.
|It never hurts to keep it real.|
There are many reasons why lawyers use legalese, among them:
- It conveys the formalness of a situation. There is power in formality.
- The practice of law is rich in tradition. This is is the way things have always done.
- It creates a legal culture, one that separates lawyers from everyone else. How else are lawyers going to identify each other? See also: Shibboleth.
- If people don't know what they're paying for, they're inclined to pay more for it.
- A false sense of security. If you put more words on a document, it means you have all your bases covered right?
Ever since the 70s there has been a movement to abolish legalese from the English language, especially in government agencies and contracts.
If you run a business, chances are you've reached out for help with navigating the legal landscape.
Protecting intellectual property, tax advice, and contract management are just some of the issues that might require another pair of eyes. The way that companies seek legal advice has rapidly changed. Thanks to the internet, outsourcing the workforce is now easier than ever. What once was the all-in-one function of BigLaw has been split up into boutique law firms, and other companies that fall under the umbrella of "legal services". The rise of intellectual property as a valuable asset has led many companies, especially Fortune 500s, to bring legal operations in-house.Behind all these changes in our business environment are a set of software tools created to tackle these challenges. This new set of tools comprise the "legal tech" industry. Legal tech is a broad term, but at its core most legal software attempts to solve one of three challenges:
- Lower the amount of time spent on administrative tasks
- Help businesses manage the relationship between contractors and vendors
- Repackage traditional legal services into services that are more affordable and attuned with the needs of modern clients, especially for startups.
It can be difficult at times to know when you need legal tech software. But if you find yourself facing these problems, it might be time to start considering certain software solutions.Read More
On December 14-15, 2017, the MerusCase team will be attending the Louisiana Association for Justice CLE conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. We’ve attended our fair share of conferences, conventions, and CLE events, and we’ve seen many types of CLE courses. It’s very common for CLE events to feature Ethics seminars, and for good reason — most states’ bar associations require one or more hours of “Ethics” CLE per reporting period.
(Check your state’s requirements here: https://www.americanbar.org/cle/mandatory_cle.html )
At MerusCase, we focus on legal ethics issues, particularly digital ethics in law practice. In the internet age, technology is vital for growth. A law firm without a website will inevitably struggle to compete with a firm that with an established a web presence. A firm without digital file storage is just waiting for a paper file to get lost. Even though technology is a clear benefit to the average law firm, there is still potential for ethical issues.
In this post, we'll cover a few common digital ethics issues that a growing firm might encounter.Read More
The best part of buying a new tech gadget is that first hour after opening the box. Everything is sleek and shiny. Each feature has exciting possibilities. All you can think about are the many ways that your new device will make your life better. Then, the honeymoon phase is over, and you must realistically consider how this device fits into your average day. That part isn’t nearly as much fun, which is why many people end up using their new gadget as a very shiny, expensive paperweight.
So, how can the average user go new iPad owner to iPad master? Brett Burney, a legal and technical consultant, saw this as an opportunity to share his experience and help firms use technology more efficiently. He created "iPractice on an iPad," an online course focusing on using the iPad to its full potential in a legal environment. The course consists of short video ‘sections’, which are then grouped into Modules based on a specific topic (e.g. “Managing & Organizing Files”).Read More