Stupid filler

These are stupid to say and every time I hear them I wonder why we hired the genius who is wasting so much oxygen around the office. Don’t say these any more:

Like. What are you, some kind of Valley Girl lawyer from the 1980’s? Most people say this one unconsciously as filler when they don’t have anything meaningful to say. You sound like idiots. Recognize that you don’t need filler in your speech and cut it out because you are supposed to be a professional attorney.

Kind of like. This one is absolutely awful and it isn’t filler like saying “like” all the time. It’s a way of suggesting you don’t really know what it’s like. You couldn’t be bothered to prepare for oral argument and you’re making a comparison argument on the fly that you don’t think really fits. Think for a minute – what in the world does “kind of like” mean? It means you don’t know what you’re talking about. That is a killer for credibility with lawyers. You don’t say “kind of like” in court. You say “it is very similar to the situation in _____” or “the court faced nearly the same facts in this other case…” and then you carefully explain the similarities and differences.

So/um. These usually come out like “sooooooooooo” or “ummmmmmmm.” They are filler at its worst. You say these to prevent someone else from jumping in while you desperately try to think up the next thing you are going to say. Try going over your argument in advance. Write out an outline and organize yourself before you show up in court. It will work wonders for you and your client.

Per se. What does this mean? I don’t think you actually know. You are saying it to sound fancy. Focus your brain and stick to real English. Lawyers love old latin phrases but use them correctly. When you just throw them around you sound stupid.

Fantastic. Do you know what this one actually means? You are suggesting that the thing you are referring to belongs in the realm of fantasy and imagination. This word was popular in the 1970’s. Don’t sound like a weirdo and destroy your credibility with the Judge.

Going Forward. This one is also a stupid phrase with no meaning. Of course everything is going forward. Does anything ever go backward? Give an actual date when things are going to happen and concrete steps about when things will get done. Don’t talk about stupid general ideas of nice things that will never occur.

Fascinating. Unless you are actually British, this one sounds condescending. Actually it sounds that way when they say it too. Judges hate it, witnesses hate it, and it makes you sound like a snobby lawyer who isn’t paying attention. You sound patronizing and inconsiderate when you say “fascinating” so cut it out of your vocabulary.

-Samuel Owen

© Samuel Owen 2012. All rights reserved. Please read important notices and disclaimers by clicking here.

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