Language matters in law

For David Zapolsky, a former Brooklyn prosecutor turned forceful and protective corporate attorney, preparation for potential legal scrutiny went even further. Zapolsky felt that “language matters in law,” and after being appointed Amazon’s general counsel in 2012, he started keeping a list on his office wall of certain indelicate words that he never wanted used in internal documents or discussions. Employees shouldn’t use the word “market” unless they specified exactly what market they meant, or “platform,” which loosely suggested a kind of distant, all-powerful authority over other firms. Other phrases on the wall included “dominating,” “big data,” and business jargon he found annoying such as “drill down” and “level set.”