Communication as it pertains to law Law as a career commands respect and demands reasonability. The profession requires more years of education and intellectual honing than most individuals are willing to partake in. The experience of maturing into an attorney brings with it authority and understanding. Some of the crucial skills demanded by this field are strong writing and speaking, reading, researching, analyzing and thinking logically (Abraham, & Herman, 2000). The art of communication is an underlying theme for one’s capacity to be a brilliant lawyer.
Many universities have an emphasis on communication in their pre-law curriculum to help bolster students’ preparedness for law school. For example, San Jose State University’s courses teach relevant skills including critical thinking and analysis, logical outlining, legal research, interviewing, argumentative writing, public speaking, debating in a cross-examination format, and ethical problem solving, all of which are key communication components for effective expression as an attorney (Salter, September 10, 2001). In this paper public speaking and argumentation will be the focus.
The five fundamental principles of human communication are the following: being aware of your communication with your self and others, effectively using and interpreting verbal and nonverbal messages, listening and responding thoughtfully to others, and appropriately adapting messages to others. In the legal profession, being attentive to your audience is extremely important for a good argument. This is applicable to anything from addressing a jury, judge, or council. Depending on the audience, a speaker may have one of two aims; either to change or reinforce an attitude, belief, or value, or to be realistic in assessing what will need to be done to effect change. Though this is not always possible in litigation, the best topics for persuasive speeches are those about which one as a speaker feels strongly about (Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Ivy, 2001).
A major part of practicing law is verbal communication. Time spent in a courtroom, or judge’s chamber, or with a client are all periods of time when one’s emphasis is on verbal messages. If a person effectively uses and interprets verbal messages, the exchange of ideas will be successful. One technique commonly used for effective persuasive strategy is creating dissonance and then restoring balance. Another strategy used is making one’s self seem more competent to an audience, citing evidence to support your ideas. If a strong verbal argument is not presented then there is little chance that a resolution will have the desired outcome (Beebe, S. A. et al., 2001).
Another part of the equation for effective communication in law is silent but imperative, nonverbal expression. A speaker’s nonverbal phrases complement her verbal expressions more than the most eloquent of phrases ever could. If she maintains eye contact, has enthusiastic vocal inflection, and moves and gestures purposefully, her audience will likely view her as dynamic. These qualities, together with appropriate dress, will help to enhance her credibility. In the legal arenas, techniques like these will bolster one’s personal presentation, and the use of visual aids will help to evoke both positive and negative emotions. An idea presented through nonverbal means is likely to have greater effect than one by verbal means alone (Beebe, S. A. et al., 2001).
The last two parts of the legal equation are listening and adapting to external inputs. One can enhance his terminal credibility by being prepared to answer questions preferable before they arise but also after the presentation. Adapting to an audience is especially important when persuading other parties. In addition, it is essential that the speaker adapt to what is being expressed to and improve or counter a point. Whenever possible the use of emotional appeal is recommended with a receptive audience. Conversely, a speaker must always acknowledge and then refute opposing points of view held by an unreceptive audience. All of these concepts and the law itself pivot around adaptation (Beebe, S. A. et al., 2001).
The law is a simply barren article, it is only humans that give it meaning. Volumes of legal jargon mean nothing if they are not perceived and then acted upon by people. Through all forms of communication, people put the words into the text that binds a society together. These bonds are the substance that litigators ponder and quibble over day in and day out because they thrive on it. That is why law is a very noble career within the vast art of communication.
Abraham, K., & Herman, A. (2000). Occupational Outlook Handbook 2000-2001 Edition. Indianapolis, IN: JIST Works, Inc.
Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Ivy, D. (2001). Communication: principles for a lifetime. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Salter, K. (September 10, 2001). Pre-Legal Studies in Communication. Prelaw Program. http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/commstudies/prelaw/.