Top tips on written advocacy, (from an ex-Home Office employee)

Top tips on written advocacy, (from an ex-Home Office employee)


Now I’m going to share with you
something special. [piano and sax music] so I’ve just been in St Paul’s [London] for a really productive and
creative meeting and now I want to give you a very quick video. Someone reached
out to me recently on LinkedIn who had something to say about my work. I’m going to call him ‘Edward’. That’s not his real name but let’s just call him Edward. And
he said this. “I worked in the Home Office’s judicial review department” He recalls some grounds which I wrote (some grounds for judicial review which I
wrote) on a particular case. “It was quite refreshing as a respondent to receive
clear straightforward and powerful grounds which led me to a clear
conclusion. Most grounds I read were of little assistance especially in a case
as complex and emotional as this.” And he continues: “I think one of the biggest
inhibitors to quick concessions is clear straight talking grounds. A lot of
grounds are quick to throw anything and everything at the Home Office in the
hope that something sticks, but it is often the clarity of ‘the issue is X and
this is what you’ve done wrong’ in the first sentence, which is exactly what you
did.” Now that’s really lovely feedback. Thank
you Edward. I really, really appreciate your very kind words and feel humbled
really that someone felt able to communicate to me across the divide. Something that Edward has tapped into is that your first sentence, how you start
off your legal document is hugely important because it shapes the rest of
the reader’s experience and you need to be providing guidance to a judge or to a
decision-maker right from the very very first line. The second thing is that
it’s hugely important to provide the reader with a summary of what your case
is about it’s no good just laying out the facts because there could be
hundreds if not thousands of facts or pieces of evidence that need to be
considered but certainly within the first few lines you have to do what
lawyers are good at which is just summarise a vast amount of legal and
factual material into a pithy statement into a story that can guide a reader
through the rest of the next 10, 12, 22 pages. And the last thing is that it’s
hugely important nowadays as a lawyer to be open to your audience and to engage
with people whoever they are because everything is potentially marketing. The way that you present yourself in a Court or Tribunal. The written document that
you provide whether it’s to the Home office or to a government agency or local authority or to a judge. That says something about you. It says something about your brand and how you communicate. and if you can communicate effectively
through all of those channels then you’re doing a good job of presenting
exactly what it is that you do in an accessible way and in a way which people
are going to respond to. So I’d just like to say thank you to Edward. Thank you also to all of those other people who have recently got in touch with me just
to say hi to find out more about what it is I do and to see if we
can work together collaborate or if there’s some kind of potential synergy
those conversations are really valuable to me and they tell me that something is
working well that the system is kind of putting me in touch with the right
people in my network. So, thanks again and I’ll see you next time. Ciao!

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