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The metapragmatics of legal advice communication in the field of immigration law

  • Jacobs, Marie
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Metapragmatic comments are crucial in lawyers' attempts at managing legal advice communication with asylum seekers. Drawing on linguistic-ethnographic fieldwork in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, this paper aims to demonstrate how/when/why textual features which tell interactants how to interpret the ongoing speech are used in the context of lawyer-client communication in the field of immigration law. The data analysis reveals how lawyers frame the discursive conditions (i.e. linguistic diversity, the institutional need for efficiency and the presence of emotional lifeworld concerns) of the local interaction in the lawyer's office. This is necessary as clients are not always acquainted with the discursive routines of the legal consultation, nor aware of its position within the wider chain of discursive asylum events. As many aspects of the legal advice context resemble the interactional conditions of the government-asylum seeker communication, it proves key yet challenging for lawyers to metapragmatically signal their advocating role in a way that enables a relationship of rapport with their client.

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