Enduringly and Lovingly Yours

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.

I am,

Very truly yours,

Mr. Attorney

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.

Regards,

Mr. Attorney

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.

Kindest regards,

Mrs. Attorney

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.

Warmest regards,

Mr. Attorney

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,

Mr. Attorney

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

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6 thoughts on “Enduringly and Lovingly Yours

  1. Depending on the recipient, I usually use one of the following three salutations (if I use one at all):

    Kind Regards,
    Respectfully, or
    Very Respectfully (sometimes abbreviated as V/R).

    I sometimes pepper the “respectfully” language into my correspondence as well. Such as, “Appellant respectfully submits that this postion misses the mark and is a steaming pile for the following reasons …” Some have called it bowing and scraping, but I feel it takes the edge off and keeps things cordial off as I try to dismember an adversarial position. I’m all about civility while trying to poke the eyes out of the other side’s arguments.

    • To think, I completely forgot the ones most popular with military writers: Respectfully and Very Respectfully. When I was still wearing a uniform, I regularly used V/r to say that I respected the recipient, but not enough to spell-out the words Very and Respectfully. Heck, I didn’t even go so far as to push Shift when I typed the R.

      Some of my friends in Ranger Regiment felt very strongly about their Ranger identity. They’d sign correspondence with RLTW (Rangers Lead the Way). They’re cute that way.

  2. It’s all bullshit.

    The last sentence in the body of a letter is almost always a request (like “Please write again if you have any more questions” or “GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY”).

    My closing salutation is “Thank you.”

    • I heard that GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY was reserved for bullying teenagers in Britain.

      Now, I don’t think you can use “Thank you” universally.

      What if the letter was as follows:

      Dear Prosecutor:

      You suck, and you violated at least 20 rules of professional conduct in the matter of US v. Smith.

      I intend to have you disbarred, and I look forward to the day that I’m able to urinate on your grave.

      Thank you,
      Mark

      It just lacks flow. Don’t you think?

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