How To Argue Like a Lawyer: An argument is a statement (written or spoken) that is intended to persuade someone of the validity of the author’s position or conclusion on a particular topic, and it is backed up by at least one reason why the listener should trust the author. The statement is not an argument but simply an opinion if it expresses an opinion without providing grounds for the listener/reader to believe it. Logic, or the study of reasoning, is the foundation of all arguments. Logic describes how arguments are constructed and how to distinguish between good and bad ones.
From English literature to nuclear physics, arguments are made in every field. In a law lesson, you’ll study the legal argument, which is a form of specialized argument. A legal argument is just a conclusion supported by at least one law. Ethical, religious, economic, and political (power) motives have also been invoked to support the result of a legal argument. Facts, issues, rules, analysis, and conclusions are the elements of a legal argument (FIRAC).
You’ll see that these are the same elements that are needed for a brief. Because a brief is the deconstruction and categorization of a legal argument into FIRAC, this is the case. Because each element should be in the document, FIRAC will also appear in the framework of a legal argument. Putting up a compelling case is an acquired talent that has little to do with formal legal education and a lot to do with a few practical tactics. So, what is the key to winning a legal argument?
How do you argue like a lawyer?
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9 Tips to Think, Win and Argue Like a Good Lawyer
1. Identify the problem and do not stray from it: Recognize and stick to the core issue of debate. When someone questions our beliefs, we instinctively defend ourselves with all available evidence. Your brain will see numerous alternatives, but unrelated, methods to enhance your case, especially if the problem is a profoundly contentious one (such as immigration detention centers, people smuggling, human rights, climate change, environmental difficulties, the Federal Budget, or marriage equality).
The greatest risk here is that your conversation will quickly and irrevocably divert away from the topic at hand and toward something that offers nothing to progress the current issue. At this point, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of unrelated topics.
2. Emotions should be checked: A dispute will never be won by emotion. When we have strong feelings about anything, it’s likely that our opinions are shaped by our own personal experiences. When someone challenges our beliefs, we are not only subject to sentiments of personal assault, but we are also unable to think logically. Anger, resentment, envy, defensiveness, or distress might result as a result of this. We may naturally widen our conversational net in quest of “proof” to back up our claims. Introducing fresh subjective concerns, on the other hand, might quickly devolve into a yelling war.
We find it difficult to provide a persuasive argument when we are overcome by emotion. Negative body language, such as shouting, sobbing, sighing, eye-rolling, or name-calling, is a waste of mental energy that could be used to win your argument. It strengthens your opponent’s psychological and emotional barriers, implying that you have already lost the war, no matter how convincing you are.
Emotion makes us deaf to opposing points of view, so your opponent can’t hear what you’re saying. Emotion is a source of weakness in debates and negotiations. Even when attorneys are angered or emotionally invested in a topic, they do not enable their adversary to exploit it. It offers them the ammo they need to focus their own approach, divert their attention away from their main goal, and win the debate.
3. Shifting Dialogues Should Be Avoided: Shifting the general conversation is a common approach adopted by persons with inadequate argumentation abilities. This is accomplished by including related but unrelated themes. The argument gradually shifts away from the major problem and into related sub-issues, leaving the original topic unaddressed.
You’ve probably seen politicians use this tactic to avoid giving straight comments to the media. As a result, there is a never-ending argument that fails to advance the original issue or reach any firm conclusions. Introducing a supplementary conversational subject is frequently an attempt to alter the conversational terrain to something more comfortable for your opponent to talk about. You may feel confident that you will have the upper hand if this occurs.
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4. Try To Keep it simple: Students may feel that the stronger the assertion is, the more levels and intricacies there are in the argument. In a strange twist of fate, it’s the opposite way around. An audience will be less inclined to take you seriously if your argument is cluttered with fluff and irrelevant material.
5. Avoid unnecessary fillers: When it comes to improper speech habits, nothing ruins your credibility like a few linguistic fillers like “uh,” “um,” “like,” and “you know.” One method to stop the practice is to intentionally substitute silence for the fillers.
Pausing to collect your thoughts takes some work, but it will make you appear more intelligent, confident, and collected.
6. Everything and everyone, including yourself, should be questioned: A competent lawyer never assumes anything. He probes for evidence in his case and puts doubt on everything, including his own position on a topic.
It may sound stupid, but you should always ask yourself, “Why?” Why does this individual hold the beliefs that he or she holds? Why is it that I believe what I believe? If you’re curious enough, you’ll discover the source of your opponent’s argument’s weaknesses.
7. Before opening your mouth, open your ears first: “Don’t just tune out the opposing side,” advised Steve Scandura, a 25-year attorney, and litigator. Shutting oneself off to other people’s perspectives is one of the biggest betrayals of your own rationale.
“Most people are preoccupied with what they’re going to say,” Scandura stated. Make a small ball out of your ego and throw it away; you’ll be better off without it because no one is always right.
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8. If you have nothing to offer, don’t try to bargain: It is said that a grade can only be negotiated if you are correct. Don’t ask your professor for leniency on the last day of the semester if you know you don’t deserve the grade – you’ll be wasting both your and his time. If you have a legitimate explanation for missing points, though, don’t be shy about stating it.
9. Make use of their strength to your advantage: “Magic is a ruse used to divert attention away from the main point of an argument… “Judo is when you take the strength of the other side and make it your own,” said Jim Wagstaff, an attorney and media ethics lecturer.
Only if you’re attentively listening to the opposing point can you use this strategy. Use your critical analysis to transform what appears to be their strong feature into your own weapon.
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The capacity of a lawyer to win an argument may be summed up in two basic skills: arranging ideas and successfully communicating them. Keep your debates on track by knowing precisely what you’re talking about and, no matter what tactics your opponent employs to distract, intimidate, confound, or alter the conversational ground beneath you, always return to the original issue.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.