Issue link: http://ailahub.aila.org/i/329586
www.aila.org 3 by Maheen Taqui W hen is the last time you took a hard look at your client form letters that are sent out every day? Odds are you've skimmed over each one before signing and sending it out, however have you really read it? If you have been using the same form letters for years, it's time for an update! Rejuvenate those stuffy formal correspondences with simple, unfussy language that expresses the same message but in an affable and professional tone. Un-formalize the salutation. Instead of beginning with Dear Mr. or Mrs. Last Name which adds an air of formality to the reader right from the start, consider just Dear First Name. If you're already addressing your client by their first name when speaking to them, then why not also address them by their first name when writing to them? is slight change can have a significant effect on the client's perception of your relationship and how you will relate to each other throughout the course of the representation. It establishes a fluid, comfortable relationship instead of a decorous association. Use Plural Personal Pronouns. Drop the I, me, my… and in its place try we, our, us. Whether directly or indirectly, each member of your firm plays a role in a client's case. So let your clients know. Using plural pronouns draws the reader in; it also signifies that you are not the only person working on the case and that it is a collective team effort. is can also be a morale booster for staff members who are directly working on the case to know that their involvement in the matter is being recognized from the outset. Stay away from unnecessary legal jargon, acronyms. Fancy legal words and acronyms (such as BIA, A/S, AWO, ER) are only going to be understood by people within your knowledge circle, and not by most lay people. Jargon may seem like a shortcut, but when you're writing to clients who are unaware of the specialized terms and what they mean, jargon will cause miscommunication every time. While these terms are great for conversations with other immigration attorneys or people in the field, touting big words or acronyms to a new client will only prove to be inconsiderate and may confuse or upset the client for not understanding what is being communicated to them. Consider how you feel when you visit the doctor when you have a problem with which you need help. You want the doctor to share with you in clear simple language what is going on, not spurt out a bunch of medical terms that you'll have to Google later on to understand. You'll be far more likely to make a strong connection with the client if you can find a way to communicate with words the reader can actually understand. Use Action Words. Get to the point in your correspondence. Using action words will help fight the urge to compose those long drawn-out sentences and paragraphs. is pointer will take some time—you not only may have to break your habit of writing the same redundant messages, but also have to perfect the use of strong action words that gets the point across and has the reader engaged, all while using fewer words. Signing-off. Now that your form letter is completely revitalized, how are you going to sign-off ? Keep current with your salutation choice—closings such as "Very truly yours," "Regards," "Yours respectfully," and "Cordially yours" are outdated, traditional expressions that have been carried on from the past. Try to keep these to a minimum so you don't appear behind the times or too formal. Similarly, trendy words such as "Cheers" should also be sent with caution. You can't go wrong with "Sincerely," "Best," "Best regards" or "Kind regards"—these salutations are pleasant and courteous yet also business professional. Maheen Taqui is AILA's Practice & Professionalism Center Associate. is article was originally published on AILA InfoNet's Practice Success Tips. Yes, It's Time to Rejuvenate Your Well-Worn Form Letters "Using plural pronouns draws the reader in; it also signifies that you are not the only person working on the case and that it is a collective team effort."