When you first meet your friend, you mention that he is “so Legal.” This is in reference to how smart and clever he is. He is an extremely smart guy who is always ahead of the curve. But is he legal?

If you were to say to him, “Your friend is Legal, but sometimes he makes some decisions that are Legal,” then you would have some explaining to do. Your friend has tons of talent and is full of wisdom. So much so, in fact, that sometimes he exceeds the legal limit of alcohol in his bloodstream.

But sometimes a little knowledge goes a long way. You see, your friend might be very talented and successful, and yet, sometimes he makes some decisions that are not so great. In legal terms, these are known as “decisions contrary to public interest.” In the case of your friend, it might be better for the overall population if he were to refrain from engaging in these behaviors, instead of using illegal substances, because these actions will hurt the general welfare of society.

One such act is using illegal drugs. In our modern world of legalized drugs, this is against the law. However, the law does not always apply. Many Latin American countries have some of the strongest drug laws in the world. And these can be harsh, such as prison sentences of over 10 years.

Another example is the language of contracts. It is legal in the United States to have contracts, but one might wonder what the point is in having them in the first place if they are not strictly followed. Your friend might be quite capable of understanding the legal contract in our society, but if he cannot even translate the information into Latin or English he will be at a severe disadvantage in life.

Finally, your friend could also benefit greatly from learning more about Latin American culture. If he was raised in a household that followed strictly Catholic Church teachings, it would be very difficult for him to try to find work as an attorney practicing in this particular legal language. Latin America has some of the toughest legal stances on drugs, gambling, prostitution, and other social issues. Learning more about Latin culture can benefit many lawyers.

Even though Latin American legal writing has some interesting differences from our legal language, one thing that all languages share is the use of contractions. While we do not often use contractions in legal writing, we find ourselves using them all the time. Consider if you will the common use of exclamation marks in many song lyrics. While song lyric writers do not think too much about grammatical correctness, most of them understand that a large amount of punctuation does away with the ability to provide “cleaning up” the language and make it more “safe”. The use of Latin punctuation can help lawyers present their arguments in a way that seems clear and easy to understand to the greatest number of people, regardless of their native language.

(Visited Law School – takes notes on the lectures and try to learn how and when to remove this template message.) We hope that this article is useful in helping attorneys communicate effectively in any legal writing environment. Our next post in this series will focus on the various ways that grammar, tense and punctuation can be affected by culture and personality. Stay tuned! Part II of this series will focus on formatting.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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