Writing Tips

Legal Writing

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The Best Way to Open a Client Letter (Part 1 of 3)

The First Sentence in a client letter should be a Sentence of Reference, which includes a name, a date, and a method; because eight months from now the controller for the client will check the books, see $23,000 in legal fees, and want to know, “Who authorized this?” And there it is in your opening sentence: who did it, when they did it, and how they did it.

A Typical First Sentence:

 We are writing to present our preliminary analysis of the claims for breach of contract and breach of the overtime provisions of the Illinois Labor Code that the plaintiffs have asserted in the Uzumi case.

A Better Way:

As you requested in my office last Wednesday, I have analyzed Uzumi’s claims for breach of contract and breach of the overtime provisions in the Illinois Labor Code.

We know who “you” is, that the request occurred during a face-to-face meeting, and today’s date, so, if we have to, we can determine the date last Wednesday. Another version: As Megan Gilroy requested in her letter of March 20, 2013, . . .

 

Start framing your letter in the First Sentence with the reason you are writing: someone, on this day, and in this manner, asked me to. Next week: Part 2, The Second Sentence – Your Conclusion. 

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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.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.