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If I Only Had the Words: Billy Joel’s Relevance to Attorneys

Too often, the legal profession relies on specialized language (think of terms like jurisdiction, quitclaim, and fiduciary) without considering that such terms may confuse and discourage clients or other non-professionals. Whether addressing a court or a layperson, it is essential for attorneys to communicate well.

This weekend, attorney Christian Brill will discuss this important issue using an unlikely source – the music of Billy Joel. The presentation is part of “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”: The Music and Lyrics of Billy Joel, a scholarly symposium to discuss the impact of the Piano Man.

Brill’s presentation will discuss the need for effective legal communication and how the lyrics of Billy Joel have been used in legal writing and opinions to interest, persuade, and illuminate readers. For example, judges have incorporated Joel lyrics into opinions on such varied matters as child support (“I Go To Extremes”) and arson (“We Didn’t Start The Fire”).

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