It's no secret that legalese is all but impossible for the average person to understand. When you're regularly working with lawyers in a business or personal setting, it gets frustrating and exhausting to not be able to understand what they're talking about. Working to learn more about law can help your conversations go more smoothly. As long as you don't try to become your own lawyer or argue with them all the time, your representation will probably appreciate the extra effort you put in to make your relationship easier. Whether you're writing a will or working to protect your company, here are some resources to help you get a little more prepared for your next interaction.
1. Online Law Classes
One of the best ways to be able to understand your lawyers is to understand the laws they're talking about. There are so many online classes available now, you can learn as much or as little as you want. You can even get a legal studies masters online. To help you get started, though, you can also look into individual online classes. It's amazing how much it helps change your perspective when you know some more about the laws and the way they work. This knowledge will help even the playing field between you and your lawyers at least a little bit more. If you focus on the area of law that you're going to be working in, taking a class can give you an understanding of the basic mandates involved, case studies that set precedents and how to critically think through situations that arise. Plus, you can establish a relationship with your instructor, which can also be a great resource for the future.
2. Books and Guides
The American Bar Association offers a variety of resources to the public such as guides to help you through the legal process of declaring bankruptcy or creating a will. They will give you book recommendations and articles that will help you understand the basic steps to accomplish some of these legal processes. You can also go to your public library and ask the librarian for resources. It may sound old fashioned, but they really can help direct you to some valuable materials. If you live near a university, you might be able to ask permission to use their library as well. Again, sometimes the most helpful thing is to gain a basic understanding of the processes and rules surrounding them. When you find a book that you especially like, consider purchasing it. These can be expensive, but it's worth having a trustworthy reference ready to go at any time. If you have a good relationship with your lawyers, you could also ask them what publications they'd recommend you look at.
3. Legal Dictionary
If you're regularly working with lawyers, it might be a good idea to invest in a legal dictionary. That way, you can find out what some of the frequently used words mean and get used to the vocabulary that they probably forget isn't normal outside of their industry. Black's Law Dictionary is a popular one, and it has an app version as well, so you can subtly check a definition in between meetings. Even though you probably won't read and memorize the entire dictionary, having one on hand is helpful to understanding your lawyers and what they're telling you. Most people are gracious about answering questions for people who don't know the lingo of their profession, but it can get old asking all those questions, and it will help meetings go faster if you're all on the same page.
4. Friends and Mentors
You aren't the only one who is struggling through communicating with your lawyers. Find the people who have gone before you and ask them for advice. If you have mentors who help you personally or professionally, chances are they'll either have some advice for you or know someone who does. Make sure you trust the person and then be willing to listen and learn from their experience. Ask them intentional questions about mistakes they made, tricks they have or resources they use. Most people are happy to help others avoid the pitfalls they fell into.
Working with lawyers regularly is helpful in many ways, but it can be difficult if you don't have any point of reference for their world and vocabulary. Even though they're probably used to this, it can make your interactions easier and more enjoyable if you're willing to put in a little extra effort.