How Important is an Attorney’s Written Voice?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
In a world that relies primarily on remote communication including emails, texts, and direct messages, an attorney’s written voice is extremely important. While an attorney may speak professionally, this does not always transfer over to their written voice. The good news is that checking for basic professionalism in your written voice is not too difficult, and there are some easy guidelines you can follow. However, if you are not confident in your writing, it’s probably a good idea to hire an outside legal writer or freelancer when you want a newsletter, blog, or other longer-form piece of material written for your practice.
Questions for attorneys to ask before sending that email, text, or other written message include the following:
- Are there any typos or missing words? This is one of the fastest ways to lose credibility as a professional. Sending messages that include typos, missing words, or repeated words can come across as both careless and unprofessional, and does little to garner trust with both clients and colleagues. An easy way to check for these errors is to copy and paste the body of your message into a word processor with a SpellCheck program. In fact, some websites exist for this purpose entirely. However, if you are sending something shorter like a text message and two-sentence reply, simply taking a moment to slow down and read through it again is a good way to catch these blunders. Another great way to eliminate typos and other faux paus in a piece of written communication is to read what you’ve written out loud to yourself before clicking send.
- Did you greet the recipient? This is especially true if this is the initial communication or reply to the initial communication. A greeting may also be wise if time has passed since your last communication, even if the conversation was already underway. This is considered a professional courtesy; some recipients may feel that a message lacks care and politeness when the writer dives straight into the meat of the matter without first saying a quick hello.
- Check to make sure you addressed all the recipient’s concerns. If the message you are formulating is in reply to another communication, it’s important to double check that you have addressed all of the recipient’s questions or concerns. It may help to make a bulleted list of the points you want to make or questions you want to answer, both for your own ease and efficiency as well as clarity for your recipient. It’s also important to remember that especially when communicating with clients, there are often questions they don’t know to ask but would benefit from. Try to answer these questions preemptively; this shows both genuine care for their understanding as well as a level of experience on your behalf that sets you apart from the rest.
- Avoid emojis, all-caps, and too many exclamation points. For the most part, it’s a good idea to avoid coming across as overly expressive in professional communications including texts and direct messages. Emojis are generally not considered professional, so it’s a good idea to leave those out of any professional communication. Using too many exclamation points or writing in all capital letters can come across as aggressive, which is also not ideal. If you want to emphasize a point, try using italics or even bolding some letters instead.
To learn more about how to craft a professional written voice as an attorney, reach out to a legal marketing professional.