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In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.
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On good and bad communications.

Commercial lawyers have lost sight of their primary purpose: not just being expert in complicated fields of the law, but to be able to plainly and clearly communicate that expertise to people who are not.

Those people are called “clients”. Clients — even sophisticated ones — Q.E.D. do not understand as well as they expect you to. If they did, they wouldn’t need your advice.

To communicate plainly, of course, you must first have a real command of your field. But this is asymmetrical: to communicate clearly about a complex field you need expertise. To communicate badly about it, you do not.

It is easy to tell whether good communicators know what they are talking about. It is hard to tell whether a bad communicator is an expert.

Blaggers and charlatans tend to be bad communicators: wilfully poor users of language.

Now, can anyone think of a modern industry that that charges a great deal of money to advise on complicated topics, but is beset with poor communication?

Types of communications

Push communications

Push” information is sent unasked — “pushed” — to a recipient. Push communications are used to solicit action, and communicate interesting, important, or time-sensitive information and, frequently, both. To solicit action: mail, email, advertisements, posters and billboards, push notifications (digital alerts sent from a mobile app), SMS, phone calls, conference calls, seminars, conferences, webinars. Information that is broadcast without the listener’s input.

Pull communications

Pull” information is material that the recipient seeks out, when and where the recipient wants it. The recipient dictates, so is best presented as a self-service resource: open, convenient, non-time-sensitive.

Bookshops, libraries, encyclopaedias, hitch-hiker’s guides and internet searches. The JC is, largely, one giant, existential infernal howl of angst in the shape of a pull communication.

Communication of change

See also