By On Oct 11, 2018 Form Templates
The late Judge David Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was a stickler for super-tight prose. Once, when his student clerk, Eugene Gelernter (now a New York City litigator), brought him a draft opinion, the great judge said: "Nice draft, Gene. Now go back and read it again. Take out every paragraph you dont need, then every sentence you dont need. Then go back and take out every word you dont need. Then, when you are done with that, go back and start the whole process all over again." We should all have such a mentor.
In personal experience, I have noticed a tendency for some boutique firms to write long and prolix letters. This, unfortunately, is part of the whole "boutique" experience. That is, there is a belief that if a client is going to a specific firm to deal with a specific matter, they expect legal briefs and letters from law firms to recite chapter and verse and the entirety of the practice guides. Cynically, this means billable hours. But ethical attorneys should steer away from that. Most likely, a client will be coming to you, hat in hand, simply looking for way to fix his problem. And sometimes a single page can do the trick. Forget the useless fluff.
Depending on whether or not a fee agreement has already been signed (or a retainer) your letters length and style will be dictated by a number of factors, including the subject and the sophistication of your client. Be cognizant of your clients ability to understand. Is your client requesting a demand letter from someone who injured him in a car crash? In PI cases, the length of the letter may be as much a function of whether or not the defendant has insurance (i.e., money).
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