What the supervisor says Vs What the trainee hears

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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 badThat’s adequateThat’s poor
That’s not too badThat’s surprisingly goodThat’s not good
That’s not bad at allThat’s fabulousThat’s OK
Yeah, we could do thatThat’s a terrible idea and I’m desperately trying to think of an alternative planHe’s considering my idea
Anyway I won’t keep youBugger off right nowHe 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 underwearHe’s interested in what I’m up to later
I hear where you’re coming fromYou’re talking out of your arseHe’s listening to my point of view
Let’s come back to that…We’ll never speak about that againWe’ll discuss that later
I’m sure it’ll be fineI’m about to get sued for professional negligenceHe thinks it’ll be fine
Don’t take this the wrong wayBe prepared to be more insulted than you’ve ever been in your entire life, you total waste of spaceHe’s about to offer some constructive advice
Each to their ownYour idea is certifiably madHe respects my view
No harm doneYou have just caused a totally catastrophic disasterMy mistake was pretty minor
These things happenThese things happen because you’re a complete cretinIt’s just one of those things
You’re looking wellYou’re looking very fatHe thinks I’m looking well
That’s certainly one way of looking at it.The completely wrong wayHe thinks my perspective is worth considering
With all due respectIf your IQ was any lower, you’d need watering twice a weekHe respects me
Let me give you some feedback on your adviceYour pathetic effort is already in the bin and I’m about the make you feel about 6 inches tallI’m going to get some useful feedback
Have you thought about drafting it this way?Draft the document this way, or find a new jobI’m being given the option of drafting it differently
That’s an interesting observationHow 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 chatYou’re firedWe’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]