You’ve Got Mail – Legal Correspondence in review

Legal Writing, as indicated in the prior post, consists of 3 basic categories:

  • Correspondence
  • Declarations
  • Legal Memorandum

The category to be addressed in this post is correspondence. At a very minimum, a paralegal should know the basics of business letter writing and the special applications that it has in the legal environment.

The first thing to consider is the purpose of a business letter.  In a legal environment, a business letter might be used for any of the following purposes:

  • Communicate factual information
  • Send documents to client, counsel or the court (transmittal letter)
  • Confirm important dates and appointments
  • Request information from client or opposing counsel
  • Confirm information provided to a client, service provider or opposing attorney
  • Summarize a legal opinion of the attorney regarding a client’s rights and/or obligations (Opinion Letter)
  • Initiate Settlement (Demand Letter)

In preparing any of the above letters, the paralegal must follow one of the recognized format for business letters.  The best choice is whatever the office is already using.  Even if you feel your format is superior, wait at least 60 days from your hiring to suggest a change.

A business letter should contain all of the following:

  • Letterhead (name and contact information for person sending the letter)
  • Date
  • Name and address of person to whom the letter is being sent
  • Reference Line (brief statement of the subject matter to be addressed)
  • Salutation (“Dear Mr. Smith,”)
  • Body of the Letter (meat and potatoes of the communication)
  • Closing (“Sincerely,”  “Yours very truly,” etc.)
  • Signature
  • Notation regarding copies and enclosures, if any
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