12 Apr Ditching solicitor jargon could take generation says legal PR expert
One of the country’s leading legal communications experts has welcomed a call by the Legal Services Board (LSB) for lawyers to get rid of jargon, but says implementing it could take a generation.
Mike Nolan, Managing Director of Nolan PR, said a culture of jargon and over complicating simple messages was so imbed into solicitors that the problem needed serious tackling.
“Communicating is something that law firms generally aren’t very good at,” said Mr Nolan, whose firm has worked with more than 30 solicitors practices all over England.
His comments come after the LSB said in a new report should learn from other sectors to remove language barriers for consumers seeking out lawyers.
The report published on March 31 says other sectors, particularly in financial services, healthcare and utilities, have devoted ‘significant resources and effort’ to making their services accessible to consumers
The report focussed on three non-financial barriers to legal access: inaccessible language, lack of trust and failure to cater for the needs of vulnerable consumers.
“It’s noteworthy that LSB chief executive Neil Buckley said many people with legal problems do not seek legal advice, because they are so uneasy with their encounters with the law,” added Mr Nolan.
“The report sought advice from a range of bodies, including the Financial Conduct Authority, the General Dental Council and Department for Work and Pensions, all which have been highlighted as having made inroads, so the blueprint is there,” he added.
The LSB report said the length of and reliance on terms and conditions were found to prevent the public from progressing matters, or even seeking advice again in the future.
Mr Nolan said he was not surprised.
“Understandably what seems gobbledygook to Joe Public, even highly educated professionals, has led to a reticence in taking on legal matters and also contributed to decreased trust in lawyers,” he said.
He added that he believed information overload was part of the problem.
“Lawyers have a tendency to give too much detail when asked simple questions,” he said. “Whilst this is understandable due to the nature of law exploring all angles of a problem, it is not what the public want to hear initially, “he said.
“The report said firms should try to layer information they present to clients, so that certain key information is drawn out and presented up-front or in bold and this makes sense.”
“The brain can only cope with so much information and giving information in bite sized chunks is an obvious solution.
He welcomed the LSB report and said it can start a process which sees communication barriers eroded and trust built up.
“It won’t be an overnight solution,” he added. “It will take perhaps a generation for great strides to be made in communication, but the fact that this huge issue with solicitors is now being put in the spotlight will only help the legal profession move forward,” he added.