It is a familiar phenomenon: a corporate lawyer receives a carefully drafted opinion from a reputable lawyer. Legally perfectly reasoned, including footnotes and references to European law - an absolute masterpiece. The in-house lawyer then wants to share this advice with the rest of the company, but encounters resistance. Management is too busy to read it and the sales team is simply not interested.
To improve their service, lawyers should think about three key questions with every opinion, contract, memo or litigation document: who am I writing this for, what purpose does the reader have, and what form is appropriate?
Example 1: litigation strategy in a complex case
- For whom. The board, which is constantly inundated with information and busy.
- Purpose: To weigh risks and make decisions.
- Shape? Create layering of information. Start with a detailed and legally robust memo that is read by in-house counsel. Then create a concise overview, such as a flowchart showing the various legal options and the likelihood of success. Based on this, the board can make a decision.
Example 2: memo on handing out general terms and conditions
- For whom. The sales team, composed primarily of non-lawyers.
- Goal: Change behavior and reduce risk.
- Form? Use clear and understandable language. Include infographics to support the text and create an interactive pdf. Make sure people don't have to search for information, but give them exactly what they need.
From dissertation to practical advice
Effective communication is essential to the success of legal services. Lawyers must be aware that their advice and documents must not only be legally correct, but also accessible and understandable to their intended readers. By keeping in mind the target audience, intended purpose and appropriate format for each opinion, contract, memo or litigation document, legal professionals can bridge the gap between the legal and business worlds. In this way, they can ensure that their expertise is actually understood and applied.