eNews: Other Topics
People appeared without lawyers in BC Provincial Court 134,358 times in 2016/17. These “self-represented litigants” or “SRLs” face huge challenges that lawyers need to understand, but they also provide opportunities for lawyers to fulfill needs that aren’t being met.
For the last 33 months the Provincial Court of BC has posted an eNews article on its website every week. That’s a total of 142 short news articles on a wide range of topics related to the Court’s work, its judicial officers’ activities, initiatives that help people resolve disputes or navigate the justice system, and efforts to improve the system!
Jason lived a comfortable middle class life until he and his wife, Maria, separated. She was angry and not interested in peacefully working out a separation arrangement for parenting and dividing their assets. With family financial support, Maria hired a lawyer. Jason couldn’t afford one, so he tried to manage the court process on his own.
Speaking and writing in plain language doesn’t mean using only two-syllable words or “dumbing down” your message. It doesn’t force you to omit complex information. Instead, it involves analyzing what you want to say to determine what information your audience needs, organizing it logically, using words at a level your audience can understand, and presenting it so it’s easy to read.
In law school, students learn to understand and use legal terminology that can convey a legal principle in just a few words. As they become expert at legal jargon, they find using it quicker and clearer than trying to explain things accurately using ordinary language and simple terms. Why then, should lawyers and judges spend the time and effort to use plain language?