What kind of language do you speak when you’re talking with potential clients and referral sources? I don’t mean English or Spanish, but whether you use “jargon” or “regular” language. As with most anything else, each has its place, but you must select the appropriate language intentionally.
If you’re talking with lawyers or legally sophisticated consumers, carefully sprinkled jargon may have its place. Those who are familiar with the area of law you’re discussing may expect to hear certain buzzwords. If they don’t hear them, they may not be confident that you’re fully up to speed and skilled in the revelant area. Dropping a word or two of jargon (a reference to a code section, perhaps) indicates that you are likely competent in the area of practice at issue.
If you’re talking with laypeople, however, sprinking in even a small amount of jargon may confuse the listener or — worse yet — may come across as if you’re talking down to him. With some care, you can address even complex issues with clear, simple, and jargon-free language. No one wants to feel stupid, and potential clients (or clients) may be reluctant to ask questions that reveal their lack of familiarity with the subject.
Lawyers often cross the jargon line in introducing themselves. Think back over your recent introductions. Do you use the appropriate amount of jargon? Do listeners immediately understand what issues you address in your practice? For the purpose of this week’s WRA, focus solely on the language you use. Next week, we’ll look at a few other aspects of introductions.