New advocates are often told not to say ‘umm’. This is good advice. ((Although the odd ‘umm’ does no harm and there is no need to become neurotic about it)) Unfortunately, many replace their ‘umms’ with similar habits. It is common for representatives to start sentences with a throat clearing phrase such as:
- In my submission…
- I suggest that.
- What I say is…
Such phrases add nothing and will only distract from what you are saying. At worse they might become an annoying tick.
A particularly dangerous phrase is ‘My client’s case is…’ or ‘My client’s instructions are…’. The effect, if not the intention, is to separate yourself from your client. Instead of saying ‘This is what has happened’, you are saying ‘This person says that this is what happened, but I’m not sure’. This is not good advocacy.
Oddly, throat clearing phrases are as common in written submissions as they are in oral advocacy. They should be eliminated there too.