Drafting Excellent Legal Letters

Learn the essentials of drafting clear, professional legal letters with practical tips for lawyers on structure, clarity, and client communication.
  • Joe Regalia

Legal Letters

The most common letter that lawyers write these days is the client letter. These are often more formal correspondences memorializing important case information. 
Letters are also often used to memorialize formal communications or statements for opposing parties in litigation, government agencies, or other contexts where formal record keeping is key. For day-to-day correspondence, nearly everything is email these days. 

Drafting Legal Letters

Start with a clear opening statement, outlining the letters purpose. Organize the body into logical sections, using headings and bullet points for ease of reading. Conclude with a succinct summary and a call to action.
1. Start by giving readers context so they immediately understand the letter’s purpose.
for example:
“This letter addresses the impact of recent tax legislation changes on your estate planning.”
2. Distill your letter’s key takeaways in a brief introduction. This way your reader will understand the key points without reading the entire document. 
3. Use headings to break down complex issues into manageable segments, just like longer memos or briefs. 
4. When drafting a letter’s conclusion, summarize the main points and specify any required actions from the recipient. Use clear deadlines if appropriate. 

Drafting Client Letters

When drafting letters to clients in particular, consider a few more tips: 
Clearly differentiate facts from opinions. Clients should understand the rationale behind any advice and its potential implications.
for example:
“Our analysis of the evidence suggests that settling is a prudent choice to mitigate risks and costs, considering the other party’s strong arguments in specific areas.”
Be explicit about what you need from clients. Ambiguity leads to delays and incomplete responses. Request specific documents or information with clear deadlines.
for example:
“We need the hard copy of all contracts from 2018 and 2019 by the end of this week.”
The tone of your client letters should strike a balance between professionalism and approachability. Simplify legal terms for clients who may not have a legal background.
for example:
Follow complex terms with an explanation, like explaining “liquidated damages” as “a pre-set compensation amount for a contract breach.”
Show understanding and personalize where appropriate. This builds trust and strengthens client relationships.
for example:
“We understand the delay has been frustrating and are committed to resolving it swiftly.”
When conveying unfavorable news, be clear but empathetic.
for example:
 “We regret to inform you that the court denied our motion. But we are exploring alternative strategies and remain committed to achieving the best possible outcome for your case.”
Joe Regalia
Write.law co-founder Joe Regalia combines his experience as both practitioner and professor to create exciting new ways to teach legal skills.  Learn more about Joe

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