By On Oct 12, 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.
If your client paid for song and verse, then thats what you give them. Increasingly, Unbundled Legal Services are becoming more common. In plain English, this means the attorney gets paid for something less than full representation through trial. That means you could be called on to write a nastygram letter to a defendant and thats it. Its good to make a good first impression, so make sure that your client gets what she pays for. And there isnt (to our knowledge) any ethical rule prohibiting writing letters before first drafting any sort of correspondence. Careful, however, of charging extra-high fees to write a simple letter that might run afoul of the ABA reasonable fees provision.
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.
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