Demystifying legal speak at Nabarro

Demystifying legal speak at Nabarro - Emphasis Case Study

Legal documents don’t have to be complex. Emphasis shows the leading commercial law firm, Nabarro, how they would write their documents in plain English without sacrificing its advice and 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 alternatives for training their staff in clear writing skills. ‘Emphasis was head and shoulders above the rest,’ says Jo.

Eliminating jargon

Emphasis ran a high-impact writing course covering plain English techniques that lawyers could use in their letters, proposals, reports and executive summaries.

Project Aims:

  • To overhaul writing at the law fi rm in line with its Clarity matters rebranding.
  • To make the language of law more accessible to clients.
  • To train all lawyers and support staff in plain English techniques.

At first, fee earners were spectical about the value of writing in plain English and without jargon. However, the trainers quickly earned their trust by showing them that good writing is good writing, regardless of the field. 

‘Emphasis challenged us to write more simply and not hide behind jargon,’ explains Jo.

Emphasis initially trained 510 fee earners over six weeks. Support staff in HR, marketing and business development also received a follow-up training session that was tailored for their roles.

‘Emphasis showed us that it is good practice to write in simple terms that your clients understand, empowered by.’ - Jo MacKay, Head of Development, Narbarro

Simplifying the message

The training has helped the firm to write in a way that made the law clear to clients. Nabarro has applied its new writing skills across all is communications channels, 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 help it differentiate itself 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, Nabarro is keeping an eye on its progress to ensure that these new skills are kept up. ‘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.’

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