Is Clients’ Time more Valuable than Lawyers’ Time?

The answer is the Clients’ time is more valuable Clients pay lawyers for their specialty and expertise in the legal field. Lawyers spends hours and effort crafting legal advice, drafting up transaction documents and conducting legal representation. Whose time that is more valuable is often misinterpreted.

“As words are the most fundamental tool lawyers use to gain advantage for their clients. The constant question for a lawyer is how to use words to cause a result, whether in court, in negotiation, in drafting a contract or a will, or in writing an appellate court.” 

Lawyers communicate and turn words into specialized languages that help gain a privileged position for their clients. Lawyers’ writing such specialized languages has been mysterious for years. If clients has trouble understanding lawyers’ writing, it is clients’ fault. This is probably because of cultural differences in writing styles in each jurisdictions or mysterious privilege uniquely reserved for lawyers.

Good writing is not mysterious. Lawyers’ writing should be treated alike as a layman can understand what is being conveyed by lawyers. To serve clients’ best interest, cultural differences in writing and mysterious privilege play no part of its professional prominence, instead of focusing on effective writing only. 

Let’s look at cultural differences in writing style, focusing on whose time is more valuable. 

Writer-Responsible Reader-Responsible
Primary responsibility for successful communication lies with writer Primary responsibility for successful communication lies with reader
If the reader has trouble understanding, it is writer’s fault If the reader has trouble understanding, it is reader’s fault
Writers are expected to work at being clear Writer may intentionally obscure meaning, good writing often has an element of mystery to it
Writers are expected to present their ideas in ways that can be easily understood reader are expected to work at understanding what is written
Wring clear sentences that can be understood the first time they read is expected Reader do not expect sentences that can be easily understood the first time they are read
Being able to make a complicated topic easy for a reader to understand is admired Not fully grasping a writer’s intended meaning does not frustrate these readers

Why Clients’ time is more valuable?

Richard K. Newman explain why the Clients’ time is more valuable as follows:

First, the reader must make a decision and wants from you exactly the materials needed for the decision – not less and not more.

Second, the reader is a busy person, must read quickly, and cannot afford to read twice.

Third, the reader is aggressive skeptical and will search for any gap or weakness in your analysis (skepticism simply causes better decision).

Fourth, the ready will be disgusted by sloppiness, imprecision, inaccuracy, or anything that impede the readers’ decision making process or hints that you might be unreliable. 

Fifth, the reader will be conservative about matters of grammar, style, citation form, and document format.

Let’s conclude this observation by citing the following wisdom: “…If obscurity and other faults in your writing distract the reader’s attention, you and your client will suffer for several reason. First, bad writing is not read. Second, a lawyer who writes badly is often assumed to be mediocre and unreliable. Third, the busy reader may misunderstand what you are trying to say.”

Bui Tien Long (Rudy)