I love reading lawyer correspondence, but I don’t read it for the substantive information. I like to look at the way it is formatted, addressed, return addressed, and signed. I think it says a lot about someone. Lately, my focus is closing salutations.
Old-fashioned written correspondence from lawyers always has a closing salutation. Emails? Not so much.
What do they really mean? Not too much. Ms. Manners applauds them, but, as a practical matter, they have little worth.
Yet, I think they say a lot about the person.
Mine is simple. I actually synchronize it between emails and written correspondence to show people that I’m a swell guy whether on paper or digits. Of course, it’s merely part of my automated signature on emails. So, people shouldn’t read into it too much.
It looks like this:
Very truly yours,
Eric the Lawyer Guy
There you go. Simple. It shows that I have integrity, with the inclusion of the word “truly.” That’s important to have a lawyer who is truthful, and I want to show that to those who receive my letters. The word “very” is there to add a little extra oomph. You just can’t have enough oomph as a lawyer. Then, I’m “yours.” What does that really mean? I have no freaking clue, but it sounds both sincere and personal. People could interpret it in a variety of ways, and I like that. It inspires creativity. Thus, I inspire creativity. Yay, me.
Other lawyers want to ease you gently into their closing salutation. They do this by adding a bit of forewarning in the last paragraph of the letter’s body.
Dear Mr. Schmuck:
I regret to inform you that we’ve lost everything in the divorce proceeding. Perhaps if your now-ex-wife didn’t hire such a good private investigator, we could have gotten more.
Now, you’re broke. I feel sorry for you, but I do appreciate the substantial fee you paid. Suicide is one very viable and cheap option for you at this point. I can assist you with the legal aspects of this endeavor for a fee.
Very truly yours,
See, the “I am” is like a correspondence parachute. It prepares the reader for the closing salutation, and you can never have enough preparation in the practice of law. The client can now reflect “Whew, I’m glad I saw that coming,” rather than being blindsided by the end.
The other correspondence parachute is the “I remain.” Stylistically placed in the same manner as the “I am,” it is reserved for those individuals who have already received an “I am.” The “I remain” reaffirms the prior commitment and lovingly assures the reader that all the prior love, commitment, and sincerity are still in effect today. This is especially effective with those clients and counterparts who might sense an erosion in prior-established goodwill.
Other lawyers like to simply regard things.
It’s a bit curt, but he does indicate that he regards his client. It is always good to regard clients.
Others qualify their regards.
See, now she not only regards her client, but she does so kindly. That’s nice. Many clients are clients because not enough people were kind to them. So, this is a great start.
For some people, especially the elderly. Warmth is needed, especially in December, January, and February. I like to think that some lawyers hope this might assist with that need. Of course, lawyers from San Antonio or Miami could use this for its more practical application. Those places are warm, and they are merely acknowledging that fact and the effect it has on their regards. Sharing information, detailed information, is always good in client representation.
Some lawyers are boring. They stick with what we were taught in middle school–Sincerely. While effective, and, patently sincere, it doesn’t show much creativity or individuality. Others utilize “Sincerely” with other modifiers. This shows that, while they aren’t scared of established convention, they don’t shy-away from spicing things up a bit.
Very sincerely in your service,
Wow, that sounds very important. What’s more, it almost sounds British–the source of much of our legal system. You sound cultured and caring. You are sincere and in the service of your client. What a novel idea in this age of legal practice.
I’m still waiting to see lawyer correspondence with “Hugs” or “XOXO.” I’m sure it’s coming, though. After all, in this mentor-deprived legal population, such cutesy salutations will likely be used by someone who mistakenly believes that their pushing the envelope is an effective way to be considered a “thought leader,” “change agent,” or “legal rebel.”
And, with that said, I am most sincerely and certainly,
Your very faithful and truly sincere legal servant, regarding all that we have together,
Eric the Unwashed Advocate