To present a compelling, logical, and evidential argument, you must learn how to argue like a lawyer. We are using lawyers because they are specially trained as advocates to discuss the case of their clients in court. So today, we will reveal the ten (10) secrets to arguing and winning arguments like a lawyer.
Have you ever been to a law court and marvelled at how lawyers present their arguments logically to convince the judge or jury of their client’s case? Well, it is a wonderful experience.
So what is the idea of an argument? The argument is not just all about shouting and making several points. If you have ever been involved in a debate about which is a better occupation between a farmer and a doctor, you will understand that most people do not know what an argument is.
When we talk about arguing like a lawyer, we are not referring to those heated arguments or exchanges of words you usually have with your friends or parents for you to prove your point.
Simply put, an argument is a statement arranged logically that contains reasons or premises so that you will have a valid conclusion. The point here is that your idea is broken down into concepts, and those statements must be logical; this means that they must be verifiable and reasonable, and then you draw a valid conclusion from your premises.
If you argue like a lawyer, it simply means that you have learned and know-how experts look at issues before bringing a persuasive argument backed up by reasoning and evidence to support your position.
There is a need for you always to present a quality argument irrespective of your field of study. It does not matter if you are in a medical or engineering area. You will be presented with opportunities to convince people logically about a position. This could be during a formal presentation in your workplace, during meetings, or during workshops.
So you need to be armed with confidence and logically arrange your statements so that whenever you speak, you see yourself arguing like a lawyer, getting your audience’s attention, and changing the results of the situation.
A lawyer’s argument in court could be either oral or written; they prepare their cases and master their words when they appear before a judge to advance their issues in their filed processes. A lawyer’s argument is contained in the “Written Address” process.
How to Argue Like a Lawyer and Win That Argument
Let us now take our time to unearth the skills or the methods you can adopt to persuade the jury or present a persuasive argument as a lawyer or in a different profession.
1. Knowledge of the facts of the case
Having a wholesome knowledge of the facts of a case gives you an edge to knowing the facts that are in the issue. The facts in issue mean what the parties are contending for in the courtroom. You can put it as the bone of contention.
The best way to be well vast with the full facts of the case is during your client interview. The client interview stage is where the client gives you full disclosure of the facts of the case leading to the claims in court.
When you have a good knowledge of the facts, you are just a few steps away from knowing how to argue like a lawyer.
Then, you have to narrow down the issues according to the client’s claims or the reliefs the client is seeking from the court. The reliefs could be monetary or declaratory.
Another way to grasp the facts of the case is by studying the case file, that is, if you did not have the opportunity to interview the client. This could occur when you inherited the case from another lawyer or just resumed work in a law firm and were given the case file.
When you go through the case file, you will know the claims, the facts, and how to structure your argument.
Remember, an argument must be coherent, and it must be in chains. This means it must link to the facts you have stated, and then you back it up with decided cases and laws, if any, to win the argument.
On the flip side, if you are not a lawyer but wish to know how to present your argument like a lawyer, then you have to study the thesis you have been given or the topic of discourse. After that, read up on the subject and develop a logical line of thought; you also have to get links to your sources to prove your case.
For instance: Let us say you were given a project to determine whether COVID-19 independently kills humans or whether it acts together with the level of the human immune system to kill the person regardless of the health status or lifestyle of the victim before the infection.
Now you have to understand the topic and pick out the important points like the meaning of COVID-19 and the immune system.
Furthermore, you also need to collect data and get expert opinions on the paper. All these steps are geared towards giving a logical argument for your case.
2. Avoid appealing to emotions to win an argument
Logically this is one of the weakest ways of winning or arguing like a lawyer. Appealing to emotions means you do not have facts or illogical reasons and are trying to win the argument by manipulating your opponent’s emotions.
An example of an appeal to emotion is the Coca-cola advert. Normally they won’t tell you or focus on the product’s nutritional value, but they will tell you that it gives you energy. This is the same way with some energy drinks you take. They are all trying to manipulate your emotions and distort your reasoning.
Appeal to emotions is intended to get you to be afraid, happy, fearful, sad, pity so that you will believe in their argument without any other proof.
Emotional arguments usually occur in delicate issues like rape, sexual harassment, religious debate, etc. They are incidents that could trigger emotions. You will have to check on it to ensure that you are armed with facts, logic, and a valid conclusion.
An emotional argument will end in heated debates, shouting, and crying all negative energy. When your opponent knows that you are easily triggered emotionally, they can use it as a tool to weaken you, and you will find yourself losing the argument.
Emotions make you weak as a lawyer or anyone engaged in any persuasive argument. You will certainly be thrown off balance and might not give a coherent idea again. So do not allow your opponent to exploit that weakness and hit you below the belt.
3. Be a good listener
If you are interested in knowing how to argue like a lawyer and do not cultivate the habit of being a good listener, then you will surely make lots of mistakes. The fact here is that you should open your ears before you open your mouth.
One very key weapon is to always listen to the points your opponents are making. It will help you to know how to tackle it logically and to dispute it. If you do not pay attention, you will surely miss out on some vital points raised by your opponent in court or any persuasive argument.
The skill of being able to pay attention to details is a must-have for any lawyer who is so desirous of becoming a good advocate in court.
The best method to achieve this is by taking down notes of the points made by your opponent and providing a credible answer to it backed up by evidence.
4. Make a simple and coherent argument
You will be wrong if you think the best way to argue like a lawyer is to confuse your opponent. Well, as it sounds nice, it is not a good skill. The essence of an argument is to win your case with evidence and logical and valid arguments advanced by you to prove your assertions and not the other way around.
So you must prepare your line of view and make it coherent so that you can at least convince a non-specialist who is listening to you. I am sure you would not want to find yourself in a situation where you will have to keep struggling to explain your points, and people begin to ask; What is this guy even saying? Does he make any sense at all?
This happens when you don’t make it simple for everyone to understand and flow with your line of thought.
The principle of scepticism is that you should be so curious that you doubt your existence. Sounds strange, right? But that is the point, and you should not leave any chance for any loophole that your opponent may exploit. This means you should ask questions on every detail to uncover relevant facts and evidence about your case.
It won’t be good practice for you to start making assumptions. Once you are already making assumptions, you are on a high way to falsehood because you will begin to make a blind argument without facts, and then you might want to resort to appealing to emotions.
When you form the habit of questioning everything concerning that matter you are handling, then you won’t be ambushed by your opponent, as nothing will amount to the springing of surprises to you.
A diligent lawyer who understands that cases are won and lost by the quality of the argument canvassed will prepare very well to persuade the judge to enter judgment in his favour.
Good research will ensure that you argue like the lawyer you are and what you are supposed to do because your client hired you.
Once you are fully aware of the facts of the case, the next reasonable thing for you is to research the laws, points bothering that particular matter and how you will present it in court for the judge.
You will need to visit the library and make consultations with several authoritative books covering that area of dispute. This will help you determine the strength and weaknesses of your case and how you will win against the other party.
7. Master the art of persuasion
If you have a good argument with valid points but do not know how to persuade the judge, you might not know how to argue like a lawyer. As a lawyer, you should train yourself to learn the skills and art of persuasion.
This requires that you should be audible and confident while arguing your case. You should also be able to defend your points when the judge asks you questions about them.
If you have a strong argument yet lack skills in persuasion, you might not win any case because you wouldn’t know how to communicate convincingly. Some ways to train yourself in the art of persuasion are by reading books and watching YouTube videos.
8. Good choice of words
One thing you should also know to learn how to argue, like a lawyer knows how to choose the right words to use when presenting your argument in court. Every good lawyer should be a master of words and the best way to use them.
We know how vague and ambiguous some words can be, so you must choose the best to use, depending on the context. As you select talks, learn how to keep it simple and precise, and you are just a few steps away from winning your case.
9. Avoid Stuttering
This is another fault that you should look at when you are presenting an argument. Avoid repetitive words like “hmm” and “like” and the rest. It will ruin your argument and show a lack of confidence and preparation.
10. Maintain a balanced pace when speaking
If you want to argue like a lawyer, you should know that lawyers don’t talk too fast when they speak. This will eventually make you make avoidable mistakes. Learn how to maintain a balance when advancing your points and making your arguments. If you talk too fast, the judge might not record your issues, or even your audience might not even follow brilliantly.
However, suppose you maintain a level speech pace and reasonable audibility. In that case, you are sure of getting more vital ground in that argument, and you will most likely win it.
We have given you the basic tips on how to argue like a lawyer, and we are sure that if you keep following the recommendations, you will become one of the best lawyers that every client would love to hire.