Law in Contemporary Society

How to Talk Like a Lawyer (Third Revision)

-- By MollyMartinez - 06 Apr 2023


I came to law school because I hoped to translate between various communities. As a first-generation college student, I understood the difficulties of navigating the unknown. I am quickly realizing that this requires an expansion of my linguistic skills. However, the first year of law school has created a bubble between the people in my life who relate to my experiences and those that do not. This isolation has led to many fundamental changes in my perspective of the world around me, but most significantly, the language barrier that exists now. I was surprised when my parents complained to me about my inability to “loosen up.” They were dismayed at my insistence on picking at small details and desire for near perfection in every word I use. My usual inquisitive disposition has now been situated in cynicism. These changes went unnoticed by me, as I still feel like the same girl from Pleasant Grove. The amount of information from my doctrinal classes often leaves my head filled with haze as I navigate a new terrain of words. The vocabulary is filled with more complex pronunciations, and the ideas are difficult to explain outside of my own head. “You must learn to think and talk like a lawyer, ” Professor Moglen has frequently said in our class, but what does it mean to take this mess of a legal brain and turn it into an effective message to others?

Be Assertive

Assertiveness and confidence go hand-in-hand. Confidence grants you the conviction that persuades others. Without this conviction for one’s own cause, it is difficult to persuade anybody else of the necessity of your own case. Assertiveness is not aggression. Aggression only takes you so far, and it places you at odds with others. With conviction and confidence, you can assert a cause without antagonizing those on the opposite side of the table.

Be Selective

Words hold so much power in our courts of law, and any loose spaces in our words leave liability. In Lawyerland, Judge Celia Day says that her job is to discern as a legal professional. Discernment extends past just the actual words communicated but also to the evaluations of the world around you. Social awareness is key for communicating in the most effective manner. In exchange, you can select the right words for the right audience.

Be Creative

As law students, we fear the risk of going outside of the accepted methodology that prizes constricted thinking. This methodology instructs us to approach legal problems in a mechanical fashion. Creativity liberates us to employ our knowledge in a way that is useful to other communities. A creative approach supports the bridge between legal knowledge and the community.


While I may not consider myself an artist anymore in the traditional sense, the creation and utilization of legal language feels like an art form once again. The meaning of every word rings like a note of a melody. Perhaps, the goal is not to simply think like a lawyer but to play like a skilled musician as well. Utilizing the ability to cut through time and space, legal knowledge transforms into a song that anyone can listen and sing along to.

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r5 - 22 May 2023 - 20:04:51 - MollyMartinez
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