I know what you're thinking: Just five?
I'll be the first to admit that lawyers say some pretty obnoxious things. Some actually have a good reason behind them, others not so much...
1. "You need a lawyer." One reason that this is annoying is because people hope to hear that they don't need a lawyer. Mostly, I assume, it's annoying because it probably doesn't answer whatever question you asked. We aren't just saying it because we love lawyers and think everyone should have one. It's our way of saying that it sounds like you probably have a legal problem but we don't know enough about that area of law to say for sure. In other words, if it were us, we'd talk to a lawyer about it. Not that helpful, I realize.
2. "It depends." I find myself saying this all the time. When answering a legal question, the answer truly does depend on a lot of things. So I'd say that while this is annoying to hear, it's the truth. An attorney who gives you a promise or guarantee of a specific outcome isn't giving you the whole story. Or they're just trying to get your business.
3. "Henceforth..." Legalese is a terrible curse. Most lawyers were brainwashed in law school and don't know any other way. Some think it makes them sound smart, when really it just makes them sound like lawyers. It's a waste of breath and ink, in my opinion.
4. "This does not constitute legal advice." Even if it certainly seems like legal advice, a lawyer's knee-jerk reaction is to say that it's not. The reason is that with legal advice comes an attorney-client relationship and ethical responsibilities. The bottom line is that we don't want to get sued. So, if you're looking for casual "advice" from an attorney, you may get this line.
5. "I'll get back to you." I wish this one wasn't on the list. It's annoying because it's frequently meaningless. You should be able to believe someone when they say they'll get back to you. Unfortunately, lawyers have a reputation for not communicating, even though communication is so important when you have clients. In a perfect world, this phrase could be understood to mean you will hear back within 24 hours.
My main concern with a lot of things lawyers say is that they don't explain - in understandable terms - what they mean. I hear from a lot of people who have concerns about their current attorney, and I believe many of those situations could be solved by taking the time to actually communicate.
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