… keeping in mind that my father and brother are lawyers.
This week I had a bit of a legal headache revolving around selling a car to someone from out of state. As part of trying to resolve that, I posted on a forum that supposedly gave expert legal advice. In a non-binding way, of course.
It was… not helpful. I got a bunch of replies from people who did not, in fact, know anything about the legal specifics of selling a car to an out-of-stater. If any of them had known, they could have told me what I eventually found out: that what the buyer’s bank was requesting was legally pointless. By far the least helpful replies were a couple of people who focused on my use of specific words.
I’ve been a software developer, and part of that is that I’ve occasionally had to do technical support. The #1 goal when doing technical support is to solve the client’s problem. Often, part of good technical support is determining the underlying problem when the client isn’t communicating the problem well. Which is not the client’s fault if they are not experts. They may not know how, so my job may include asking the right questions if the problem is unclear.
While I think I did, in fact, convey my problem and what I needed well, that’s irrelevant. Good tech support does not involve arguing with the client about what they said, or focusing on the definitions of phrases like “standard procedure” or “simpler procedure” rather than what the client needs.
However, being a lawyer frequently does. Contract law often involves parsing words and arguing for literal interpretations of what a contract says rather than what the signers intended. Law school teaches you to focus on winning rather than being helpful. My father felt that was bullshit, and for the brief time he was doing civil law, he tried to focus on reaching an agreement that was good for both parties, rather solely on what was best for his client. My younger brother bought heavily into it - he likes telling stories about how hardball he played, even when his playing hardball meant they never reached an agreement.
I’m pretty sure that’s what I was seeing on that forum. Lawyers being lawyers even when fighting and word-parsing was inappropriate.