I’m taking a class called “Complex Litigation: Advanced Civil Procedure."
Complex Litigation is every bit as confusing as it sounds; the class deals with large multi-party and multi-forum civil cases, and how courts and litigants deal with them.
On top of this confusion, my prof has a penchant for using what some would consider unnecessarily ornate vernacular—a virtual cornucopia of polysyllabic confabulation.
I know he’s aware of this because he just told us that one of his Anonymous Student Evaluation forms from last year read, “Could you talk more normal? I don’t know what ‘ensue’ means. Why do you have to use that word so much?”
I laughed along with the rest of the class, but I’m still not 100% sure what “ensue” means either.
On the other hand, I’d never consider faulting a professor for using a word I didn’t know; if I really wanted to know what a word meant, I’d look it up.
For the rest of lecture, the prof used ‘ensue’ once per minute.
Does he have to use words like “ensue” and “convalesce” “acquiescence” in every other sentence? Probably not; I’ve gotten by twenty-four years without using them at all. Still, the prof is a smart guy, and he’s not using big words for the sake of using big words; he’s using them to say exactly what he wants to say.
That said, many of my classmates use big words for the sake of using big words. This usually happens when they volunteer answers in class. I assume their verbage will only get worse once they get their diplomas and pass the bar; they’ll probably see their graduation and bar passage as a validation of their verbage.
But in my classmates’ defense, is there any advantage to speaking legalese for the sake of speaking legalese? For example, do clients feel they’re getting their money’s worth when their lawyer peppers her casual conversation with Latin legal phrases? Does legalese scare opposing parties into settling cases? Any advantage at all?