Episode 176 – How Talking In Legalese Drives Away Potential Clients

Episode 176 – How Talking In Legalese Drives Away Potential Clients

Your clients are not attorneys, and have none of the hard-earned legal training you do. They don’t use the same terms, and certainly don’t understand legalese. Recovery vs. Settlement. Spousal Maintenance vs. Alimony. 4th Amendment vs. Search and Seizure. Administrative Hearing vs. DMV Hearing.

When using legal expressions and jargon on your website articles, and anytime you interact with potential and current clients, make sure to translate into terms the layperson can understand. Use clear, simple and easy-to-understand language, make your content digestible. Find more about this in today’s podcast. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast and post a review.


Hello, this is Richard Jacobs with Speakeasy Authority Marketing. Today, I want to talk about something real basic. Do you speak English to your prospects or do you speak using legal terms aka gobbledygook to the layman’s ear or the untrained ear? This is very important. This stems from a recent conversation I had with one of my clients who does personal injury. And we were talking about the words used on his website and we were talking about a recovery versus settlement. And he said, “Well, I don’t want to call staff for settlement because I think this and I think that. I want to call a recovery”. I said, “Well, what do your clients call it?” And he thought about it and he said, “Yes, money or settlement that kind of thing”, I said “Well, that’s probably what you should call that on your website even though to you, it may not be the most precise language and it may not be a 100% accurate”, because if your clients call it that and that’s what you have in your website, well now, they’ll see that and it’ll make sense to them. Their brain will automatically say, “Settlement, settlement, great”. Recovery, they may understand or they may not but you don’t want to take that chance. This happens in other arenas. Let’s take the DUI world. In some states, they call it DWI, OUI, OVI, OWI, DUI, DUID, DUAC. There is a whole host of terms depending on the state. And almost every time when I talk to the attorney in a particular state and they’ll those acronyms, I’ll say, “What do your clients call it”, and they’ll almost always say, “DUI or drunk driving”, sometimes they’ll say “DWI”. Well guess what? Yes, you want to put the normal terms that you have on your website for Google’s sake but you also want to put again the terms that real people will use because when they are looking around and they are in the state of panic or emotional distress which accompanies almost every legal situation if you think about it, even a parking ticket. You have that emotional distress. Imagine murder, sex crime, divorce, bankruptcy, I mean look at the level of emotion there. And you know emotion clouds judgment and when you are emotional, you miss things right under your nose. So you got to make your site easy to understand.

Some other examples. Let’s say you have a board certification of something that applies in your state; not all states it does, I know. What does that mean? I don’t know what that means. Does your client know what it means? You know what it means. So explain it. So if you have any badges on your site or a specific terminology that people don’t understand, you’ve got to explain it. Let’s look at divorce. So there is contested and uncontested, what does that mean? A lot of people may be familiar with the term Annulment, that may not apply in your state. A big division I have seen is spousal maintenance versus alimony, that’s a big division; some states have one, some states have the other. Some people call it one thing, some people call it another. I recently worked with a guy that does prenup and post-nup agreements. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a post-nup agreement. I had only heard about pre-nup. And not all cases but many times, I am a good indicator because yes, I know about the law from working with many, many attorneys but thankfully, I haven’t had too many run-ins with it in serious situations. I haven’t been divorced or any of that, thank goodness, but I am more like the layperson when it comes to those circumstances. So what I would do, if I were you, is again, think back and listen to your customers, what are they saying. And then when you are reviewing your website and all your marketing material and even your presentation, live or over the phone when you are doing a phone consult, avoid using as much as possible legal terminology. If you have to, explain what it means in real simple terms because the confused mind says no, and the confused and frightened and emotionally dragged down mind, which is the mind that you interact with on pretty much every client call or potential client call, that mind is going to run away screaming if it doesn’t understand what you’re talking about. And it’s just going to put up an artificial barrier between you and the potential client, why do that, why not get more cases and again, you may not even realize you are coming across like this. Last example I’ll give you is in the marketing world, you may get calls, probably you do all the time, from marketing companies, SEO companies and they are throwing all kinds of gobbledygook terms at you, you know, “We’re Google partner certified, we use SEM not SEO, we’ll optimize your site using keyword”, this and that, “We’ll have a proprietary dashboard that does this”, we’ll use Google maps or Google+ to do that, I bet if you are listening to this podcast, you are already like (snoring sound) hearing that stuff snoring because you don’t care. You just want the bottom-line, you want to know what will make me money, what will get me customers. So again, back to your potentials. What will get me legal help and what’s going to happen to me or what could happen to me, that’s what they want to know. And you’re the person that’s going to do it.

So anyway, before I beat this to death, as usual, hope this advice is helpful to you. Look over your marketing material and again, see if you are doing this kind of gobbledygook talk. So that’s what I have for you today. If you need help in translating what you do so the mind of the customer matches what you have on your site and in your marketing material, it’ll get you more clients and I’ll help you do it. Email me Richard.Jacobs@speakeasymarketinginc.com, or call 888-225-8594. And if you like this podcast, please subscribe to it and review it. It helps get this out to more attorneys just like you. Thank you.


Richard Jacobs

About Richard Jacobs

My name is Richard Jacobs, and I've discovered quite a bit about the plight of solo practitioners and small, 2-5 attorney firms like yours these past 12 years.

I've come to understand the unique challenges in marketing ethically and effectively that attorneys face because I have:

  • Helped over 180 attorneys author their own practice area book and become the 'implied expert' in their practice area
  • Helped hundreds of attorneys successfully navigate Google's search algorithm changes, growing their websites from 2 potential clients calling a month to 4+ calls per DAY for some clients.
  • Interviewed and promoted over 507 attorneys nationwide, in practice areas such as:
  • DUI / DWI
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defense
  • Bankruptcy
  • Auto Accidents
  • Social Security Disability
  • Slip & Falls (Premises Liability)
  • Real Estate
  • Estate Planning / Probate
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Expungements / Post Conviction Relief

Before you decide to invest in your marketing, it makes sense to first request your complimentary, custom, no obligation video website review.

Richard is the author of 6 books published on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.com

Richard is available for speaking engagements on direct marketing for attorneys and has recently spoken at the following legal conferences:

  • PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association)
  • Las Vegas DUI Summit – Private event for DUI attorneys
  • New York Boutique Lawyers Association
  • Perry Marshall & Associates Marketing Academy (Marina Del Rey, CA)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)