TOP TEN (SHORT) PIECES OF ADVICE FOR LAWYERS ABOUT CORRESPONDENCE: AVOID ADVERBS (BASICALLY), OH AND DISCUSSING YOUR CASE LOUDLY ON A TRAIN…
Continuing with the series on guidance for new entrants to the profession (and a useful reminder for the rest of us). This is ten pieces of advice from the lawyers of Twitter after I wrote a piece on the lack of sense in “aggressive correspondence”.
I have chosen 10 from the series of tweets that followed, which were collated in Aggressive inter-solicitor correspondence: pistols at dawn & the dangers of talking on trains: lessons from Twitter.
2 weeks ago was able to draft a letter that included: “We acknowledge receipt of your letter which was expected as Mr X was discussing the same loudly on the telephone on the train from London to Manchester on Wednesday”
99% of all correspondence should be met with nothing more than “thank you for your letter, the contents of which are noted”. Anything else is superfluous and pointless out-of-court moaning.
Your post reminds me of advice given me by a QC to avoid adverbs as they just import unnecessary emotion, and that the most amount of emotion to show in a letter is mild surprise….
Opposition solicitor insisted on advising me of his “astonishment” every time we corresponded recently. It turned into a bit of an office meme. (Of course, I won, and remained resolutely unastonished)
Once had a sol threaten to obtain an arrest warrant for me if I didn’t answer his Qs. I wrote back asking him to state his authority & explain why I shouldn’t report him to the SRA blatantly making a threat he knew there was no lawful basis for. Weirdly he stopped the threats.
I’ve never known it impress a judge. Besides, if you really want to be offensive, nothing beats ‘with the utmost possible respect
My old boss, Peter Trivass, was in the habit of ending letters to insurers with the encouragement ‘Pay up. Look big’
One of the Solicitors I handled work for as a Trainee had a habit of responding to long correspondence from the Defendant with:
“ Dear Sirs, we are surprised to note that you….” “Dear Sirs, we are surprised by your surprise….”
I’ve never known it impress a judge. Besides, if you really want to be offensive, nothing beats ‘with the utmost possible respect…’