General Advice – December 2018


Members of an audience will be struck by the dramatic difference in modes of delivery between legal practitioners and medical practitioners.

Whilst there will always be some exceptions, legal practitioners usually stride to the podium, pull out a thick folder of typed pages and begin reading. Occasionally, there is some inflection in the voice, an eye or two may even be raised to engage with the audience but in general terms, it’s head down and let’s head from start to finish without taking a breath. I often wonder why they bother. Why not just give us all a handout that we can read at our leisure and instead, engage in some form of question and answer forum at the conference.

two page poor text

Medical practitioners deal with these types of dissertations very differently. The medical practitioner will often have an aide-memoire such as a PowerPoint presentation. If it is done properly, each slide on the PowerPoint presentation will have a few key words or maybe a diagram or two. The type should be bold, easily read and succinct. Medical practitioners often speak “off the cuff” referring obliquely to these aids-memoire on the screen and are vastly more engaging, entertaining and educational.

The same can be said for written reports. The use of headings, subheadings and numbered paragraphs can be used to exemplify, clarify and emphasise important points within the document.

well laid out text

I can think of a handful of colleagues who simply produce a half dozen or so typed pages, single spaced in small type and with few or no headings. I would never admit it publicly of course, but I rarely read them. Instead, it is such a pleasure to read a report prepared by a colleague that is laid out clearly, progresses sequentially through the case and concludes with an erudite and justified opinion. Whether I agree or not become irrelevant. All of the pleasure is in the reading.