The advent of the Internet has had a significant impact on the transfer of specialised knowledge from experts to non-experts. Over the years, the way in which digital tools such as blogs, forums and websites have been conveying information has had a strong impact on people’s understanding of specialised knowledge: popularisation thus functions as a tool for the “empowerment” of the lay people (Bondi et al., 2019, p. 2). The focus of the present paper is on legal knowledge communication from expert to non-expert online from a cross-cultural perspective. The aim is to investigate the linguistic-discursive strategies deployed by English and Italian law professionals providing legal advice to lay people on online law forums. The contribution of online law forums to legal knowledge dissemination has received scholarly attention in English. Relevant research across languages is still lacking. This paper attempts to help fill this gap, by illustrating and comparing the ways legal information is given on the UK LegalExpert and Italian La Legge per Tutti forums. Adopting a discourse analytical approach, the analysis shows that both British and Italian legal experts give advice using a variety of strategies, ranging from impersonal explanatory to interpersonal and communicative practices. The paper attempts to provide further insights into effective computer-mediated legal discourse for legal professionals and language scholars alike.
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