Avoid clichés and buzzwords like the plague

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Poor writing is an instant turnoff. Be it incorrect grammar, overused and tired phrases or a simple failure to proofread adequately, sloppy writing comes across as lazy and unprofessional. For attorneys who must be able to communicate with a range of audiences, from judges to peers to clients and prospective clients, bad writing habits can be costly.

You have read them – sentences that seem to drag on endlessly without actually saying anything at all. Sometimes you will find you have read an entire paragraph about “doubling down” on “client-focused results” where “the bottom line” is “thinking outside of the box” only to realize that you actually feel less informed than you did before reading it. If phrases like these grate on your nerves, you are not alone. Clients and judges do not like them either. And marketing materials filled with overused platitudes are not likely to send eager prospects flocking to your office.

As a profession, lawyers have built a reputation for using a writing style that is needlessly wordy and obtuse. But stereotypes were meant to be overcome.

Watch out for clichés and buzzwords. Overuse of clichéd statements is another nail in the coffin and the straw that breaks the camel’s back for your writing’s effectiveness. It makes your sentences appear longer at the expense of actually saying something to your readers. Every profession is guilty of spawning its own insider language, some of which is helpful and even necessary. But in many cases words and phrases get used so often that they no longer have any real meaning or value to offer. They are simply information-free filler.

Consider making a list of words to avoid that you can keep handy whenever you are writing. Ask others what their pet-peeves are. Do a search for overused industry terms. The marketing profession has its share of fluff, like “guru”, “synergy” and “innovative.” Keep you list updated and be vigilant when clichés rear their ugly heads... CONTINUE READING

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