What the supervisor says Vs What the trainee hears

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By Wigapedia on

Junior and senior lawyers speak a different language


As the poor, tired, huddled masses of trainees and pupils gird their loins for their arrival on the legal shores, yearning to breathe free, Wigapedia publishes another helpful* guideline for them (and their selfless supervisors) to cope with the linguistic pitfalls that can befall both.

*’Helpful’ in this instance is not the OED definition but is used in the strict legal sense of being entirely useless.

What the supervisor says

What the supervisor means

What the trainee hears

I’m not sure I follow  What the hell are you on about? He doesn’t quite follow my idea
That’s not bad That’s adequate That’s poor
That’s not too bad That’s surprisingly good That’s not good
That’s not bad at all That’s fabulous That’s OK
Yeah, we could do that That’s a terrible idea and I’m desperately trying to think of an alternative plan He’s considering my idea
Anyway I won’t keep you Bugger off right now He values my time
How’s the rest of your afternoon looking? I’m about to give you so much work to do, you’ll need a camp bed and at least one change of underwear He’s interested in what I’m up to later
I hear where you’re coming from You’re talking out of your arse He’s listening to my point of view
Let’s come back to that… We’ll never speak about that again We’ll discuss that later
I’m sure it’ll be fine I’m about to get sued for professional negligence He thinks it’ll be fine
Don’t take this the wrong way Be prepared to be more insulted than you’ve ever been in your entire life, you total waste of space He’s about to offer some constructive advice
Each to their own Your idea is certifiably mad He respects my view
No harm done You have just caused a totally catastrophic disaster My mistake was pretty minor
These things happen These things happen because you’re a complete cretin It’s just one of those things
You’re looking well You’re looking very fat He thinks I’m looking well
That’s certainly one way of looking at it. The completely wrong way He thinks my perspective is worth considering
With all due respect If your IQ was any lower, you’d need watering twice a week He respects me
Let me give you some feedback on your advice Your pathetic effort is already in the bin and I’m about the make you feel about 6 inches tall I’m going to get some useful feedback
Have you thought about drafting it this way? Draft the document this way, or find a new job I’m being given the option of drafting it differently
That’s an interesting observation How on earth did you pass any exams, let alone our recruitment criteria? He thinks my point is an interesting one
I think we need to have a little chat You’re fired We’re going to have a chat about our interests and hobbies

Hat tip to the hilarious @VeryBritishProblems for inspiration and ideas.

Wigapedia (aka Colm Nugent) is a barrister at Hardwicke in Lincoln’s Inn in London.


How to speak lawyer: a guide for trainee solicitors and pupil barristers [Legal Cheek]