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Interpersonality in Legal Genres


Ruth Breeze, Maurizio Gotti and Carmen Sancho Guinda

Few concepts in Discourse Studies are so versatile and intricate and have been so frequently contested as interpersonality. This construct offers ample terrain for new research, since it can be viewed using a range of diverse theoretical frameworks, employing a variety of analytical tools and social perspectives.
Studies on the relationship between writer/reader and speaker/audience in the legal field are still scarce, dispersed, and limited to a narrow range of genres and a restricted notion of interpersonality, since they are most often confined to modality and the Gricean cooperative principles.
This volume is meant to help bridge this gap. Its chapters show the realisation and distribution of interpersonal features in specific legal genres. The aim is to achieve an expansion of the concept of interpersonality, which besides modality, Grice’s maxims and other traditionally interpersonal features, might comprise or relate to ideational and textual issues like narrative disclosure, typography, rhetorical variation, or Plain English, among others.
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The Discursive Construction of Professional Relationships through the Legal Letter of Advice


The letter of advice is a pivotal genre in the legal profession. In practical terms, it is the standard document for conducting written communications with clients, and it is the medium through which potential legal cases are first clarified with clients and colleagues, and the routes open for legal action are mapped out. It is transactional, in that it is organised to achieve particular goals beyond the text itself, and it is relational, in that it both assumes and projects relationships between the sender and the addressee, and possibly with other parties. Like other types of transactional letter, the letter of advice is embedded in a dialogic relationship: the writer has already received information from the client, and has to discuss and return it indicating possible courses of action for the client to take. This is reflected in the structure of the letter itself: the lawyer first acknowledges the client’s query, reformulates his/her problem to align it with the frameworks of the law, proposing possible interpretations or solutions, and finally resubmits the matter to the client with indications as to what actions can be taken, since the client has to make the final decision as to how to proceed. However, it is important to note that the relationship between lawyer and client is also subtly constructed and maintained through the skilled management of the linguistic resources used at each stage of the text. In particular, the lawyer uses relational features to project an appropriately authoritative professional identity and...

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