blog home Legal Online Marketing Putting Legal Jargon in Layman’s Terms

Jargon means words and expressions used to describe topics and ideas that are unique to a specific business or an area of interest. Although jargon is often derided, it can be very useful for specialists. When speaking to someone in your particular field, having a shared language helps streamline conversation, saving people a lot of time.

But using jargon with laymen isn’t a good idea. Jargon annoys people. It gives them the impression you’re an obnoxious jerk who’s talking down to them. Using jargon can also make your reader think you have something to hide, or you’re just not smart enough to explain things plain English.

Of course, there are many times in legal marketing when you have to use precise technical language. In these cases, you should always define your terms the first time you use them.

Putting a Wall Between You and Your Reader

People don’t read legal websites for fun. Someone who is looking for a lawyer is probably facing a serious crisis. They are seeking a solution to a life-altering problem. They may be looking at jail time, or perhaps they’ve been involved in a catastrophic accident.

If your reader is experiencing a personal tragedy, they’re probably feeling hurt and vulnerable. You want to use a tone on your website that puts them at ease. Remember: You are welcoming someone to come into your office so you can help them with a problem.

When you use a bunch of words your reader doesn’t understand, it can be intimidating. It also makes you sound stuffy and pretentious. That’s not a good way to get potential clients to trust you.

Avoid Lawyerly Language

Sometimes attorneys and other professionals are reluctant to allow their marketers to explain things in simple terms. Many lawyers believe that using technical jargon and sophisticated legal terms adds an air of credibility to their websites. They spent a lot of time learning all those fancy words, and they want people to know about it.

Potential legal clients aren’t looking for clever conversation — they’re looking for a compassionate friend to help them in their time of need.

The type of language used in legal documents is particularly off-putting on a legal website. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid hifalutin words like “whereas,” “however,” and “therefore” altogether. And “which” should be replaced with “that” whenever possible.

Regular people don’t like legalese. It makes them feel like someone is trying to trick them. And there are many legal terms that are particularly jarring, such as:

interrogatories, moot, remand, tort, subcutaneous, per se, amicus brief, exculpatory, de jure, magistrate, party of interest, negotiable instrument.

If you must use technical terms, always bold them the first time you use them and provide a clear definition.

On the other hand, there are a lot of legal terms that have become part of our everyday life through the media and personal experience. You can feel safe using these terms because people don’t find them intimidating:

Grand jury, insider trading, plaintiff, defendant. Probation officer, prosecute, sentence, admissible, subpoena, grand jury, misdemeanor, felony, settlement, claim, parole, hearsay, docket, burden of proof, bail.

We Know Just the Right Words to Grow Your Business

At SLS Consulting, Inc., we’re good with words. Our team has mastered the art of copywriting, and we know the best way to say things. That’s why our websites rank at the top of the SERP in Google searches. Our websites are also designed to maximize conversions.

Call SLS Consulting, Inc., at (323) 745-1806 for a FREE consultation today. We know SEO.

Related Articles: