As a student, scholar, and professional writer, I have long been familiar with the standards governing academic honesty and plagiarism. I applied these to many academic publications, including my master's and doctoral theses. I dealt with student plagiarism at various times in my professorial career (1967-1980), and later, as a speechwriter and corporate communicator, I applied these standards to ensure that the content of my work products, including professional articles, was either original or properly attributed.
Perhaps 25% of the cases I handle involve the authorship of anonymous, disputed, or forged documents. The client wants to know who's writing those nasty, threatening emails or letters. I typically ask the client for writing samples from the suspected author. Sometimes there's more than one suspect, and I have to decide which of them may be the author of the anonymous document(s).
There are many different kinds, dozens of areas of emphasis. Ultimately one becomes one's own kind of linguist, depending on where one's interest and preferences lead.
A forensic linguist must be exquisitely sensitive to nuances of text. Where a synonym exists, the very choice of each word represents a decision on the part of the author. Superimposed upon that is the way the word is spelled, abbreviated or capitalized. Truly, a text is a tangle of choices.
I advertise myself (accurately) as a "linguistics expert" so I sometimes get questions about language usage.
It's not often that forensic linguistics makes the news. It's not nearly as sexy or yucky as the forensics that originates in the pathologist's lab or at the murder site.
"Maybe you already have some or all of the content of your speech, in the form of 'topics I want to discuss' or 'points I want to make.'
When does a lawyer need a linguist? As Roger Shuy, one of the most pre-eminent forensic linguists, has observed, the interpretation and application of the law are overwhelmingly about language