Writing Tips

Legal Writing

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How to Irritate Clients (Part 3 of 3)

State the obvious.

All clients read our memoranda for one reason: They want to learn. If they’re not learning, they get annoyed. So every sentence should reveal something they don’t know. To tell a client that, “The court needs to look at the facts of each case,” tells the client nothing.

After we waste a client’s time explaining how we organized our memorandum and listing all the cool sources we found in our research, we often hit the client with something everyone already knows. To the client it sounds like:

Before commenting on the enforceability of
the contract, we should read it first. No, seriously.

I’m not being facetious; here’s an example:

To determine whether the parties to the Agreement
set forth a “clear and unmistakable” statement of
their intention that the arbitrator decide his or her
own jurisdiction, the terms of the contract must be
reviewed.

I have so many examples of stating the obvious, it was difficult to limit myself to only two. The following sentence is a double “duh.”

Whether a breach of this heightened fiduciary duty
has occurred turns on the facts and circumstances
involved in the situation in question (which facts
and circumstances will always be evaluated in
hindsight).

I understand the urge to get formalities out of the way before we launch into the good stuff, but we have to get to the good stuff faster. Clients would much rather know the answer and what they’re supposed to do (see “The Best Way to Open a Client Letter”) than have our thoughts on how we organized the memorandum and what we will and will not discuss and a review of the documents and authority we consulted and hear that before commenting on the contract we thought it wise to read it first.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

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