For a lawyer of 20 years' standing, as she claimed yesterday, Julie Bishop has a real problem with what should be the basic tool of the lawyer's trade, words.

Never mind that one of the highlights of Bishop's legal career was enthusiastic participation in what some have characterised as CSR's "litigate until they die" asbestos strategy. That merely denotes the sort of cynicism and amorality that doesn't exactly distinguish Bishop from many of her former colleagues in that profession. This is about her problem with how she uses words.