Demystifying legal speak at Nabarro
Legal documents don’t have to be difficult to follow. Emphasis showed leading commercial law firm Nabarro how to write in plain English – without compromising its advice or reputation.
Making the law more accessible
Nabarro rebranded in 2007 with the strapline Clarity matters. ‘We wanted to live up to that brand promise,’ explains Jo McKay, Head of Development. ‘Law is a very complex world and I believe it is our responsibility to translate that into understandable and accessible terms for our clients.’
Nabarro researched providers to train the firm in clear writing skills. ‘Emphasis was head and shoulders above the rest,’ says Jo.
Emphasis ran a high-impact writing course covering plain English techniques that lawyers could apply to letters of advice, proposals, reports and executive summaries.
Fee earners were initially sceptical about adopting a style of writing that didn’t contain jargon. However, the trainers quickly gained their trust by showing them that good writing is good writing, no matter what field you’re in.
‘Emphasis challenged us to write more simply and not hide behind jargon,’ explains Jo.
Emphasis initially trained 510 fee earners over six weeks, following this up with a tailored course for all support staff in HR, marketing and business development.
Simplifying the message
The training has helped the firm to demystify the law for its clients and Nabarro has applied the writing-skills training across all its communications, including its website.
‘We’re stripping out the hyperbole and waffle that is synonymous with the legal sector,’ explains Christian Ball, Head of Internal Communications. ‘You don’t have to overcomplicate your message and you don’t have to be complex.’
The training has also differentiated the firm from its competitors. ‘It’s released lawyers from having to adhere to the old-fashioned legal language they’ve been taught in the past,’ says Jo. ‘Emphasis showed us that it is good business practice to write in simple terms that your clients understand, and feel enabled and empowered by.’
Improving service to clients
After a successful rebranding, the firm is making sure that it keeps its foot on the accelerator. ‘It’s important that we push through to bolder, better and greener times, in which our clients realise the benefits of concise and clear service,’ says Christian. ‘Hopefully they are already feeling the benefits in terms of how our hours are being billed, because the more concise we are, the more we strip out unnecessary work for all parties.’