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Legal Writing: Set in Style
Audience Analysis — Part I
Why do people attend seminars hosted by law firms?
What is the purpose of these seminars?
I thought about that recently.
I was attending a seminar on employment law, and I was wondering why the attorneys were doing what they were doing — for the first hour of the seminar, they were breezing through cases related to employment law.
I counted, and this happened 12 times in just 10 minutes: an attorney from the firm hosting the seminar stood before the audience, said something like, ?Now, let?s turn to Case 262 on page 110 of your seminar handbook,? and then said not much more than the seminar handbook said about the case, which wasn’t much.
Here?s an example:
Mueller v. County of Los Angeles
(2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 809, 98 Cal.Rptr.3d 281
Plaintiff?s claim for whistleblower retaliation, harassment, and failure on the part of the County to investigate are all embraced by workers? compensation exclusive remedy. Furthermore, County had no mandatory duty to investigate, only discretionary. Immunity applied.
And for just about half of those 12 times, the speaker told us the name of the judge who wrote the ruling.
Why? What could it matter?
To me and to most attendees, it didn?t matter one bit whether the ruling was written by Judge X, Y, or Z. That might matter to an attorney (e.g., the speaker), but not to an HR manager or a small business owner.
So why mention it?
I can think of two reasons. The first is that many seminars aren?t educational — they?re promotional. The host may have discounted the value of HR managers and small business owners (the bulk of the audience) in favor of the few corporate counselors in the room.
The second is much more common. In that case, the host doesn?t tailor the presentation to the audience because that doesn?t occur to the host.
This is the first in a series on audience analysis, and the intended audience consists of attorneys and marketeers preparing law firm seminars, creating the materials for seminars, or creating proposals or client alerts or anything else meant to attract a particular audience — an audience of potential clients.
For now, let me leave you with this essay (“The Writer’s Theater“) by Douglas Adams, professor of law at the University of Missouri.
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