Whether you're writing to your attorney for assistance in a legal matter or helping your child contact an attorney who is a member of the community for a school project, using the proper language gives your message an air of professionalism.
Style Basics for Letters and Post
Date the letter at the top, either left justified or centered. Below the date on the left, place the attorney's full name followed by a comma and the term "Esq." – which stands for the attorney's title – in the center of the front of the envelope. For example, write "Robert Smith, Esq." Below the attorney's name, write the name of his firm on one line and the complete mailing address on subsequent lines. Use this same address and name styling for your envelope.
Begin your traditional letter or email with "Dear Mr. ..." or "Dear Ms...", followed by the attorney's surname and a colon. For example, use "Dear Mr. Smith:" to address the attorney. If you write legal letters frequently, save this template to use in future correspondence. Avoid using the prefix "Mrs.", as this is only appropriate for a married woman, and it presumes the attorney's marital status.
At the end of the letter, sign off with a closing. Common closings include "Sincerely," "Very Truly Yours" and "Kind Regards."
Responsive Letters to an Attorney
One of the most commons reasons clients write to their attorneys is in response to requests for information. At the beginning of a civil or criminal case, a lawyer may ask you to prepare a written summary of events chronicling actions leading up to a incident. In these cases, responding promptly and with accuracy is key. You can include your summary or response in a separate document with a letter as cover, or you can include everything in the letter itself.
Snail Mail Versus Email
Consider sending a formal letter to your attorney if you want to see major changes in the way an existing criminal or civil proceeding is being handled. An email is appropriate for brief conversations or minor updates, but larger actions, such as requesting a will rewrite, asking for new representation or providing a notice of termination are best handled in writing. If you are sending a particularly sensitive document, pay extra for a tracking service that will allow you to verify delivery through the United States Postal Service, UPS or FedEx.
A letter to an attorney should be written in a formal letter format with the attorney's name, law firm and address at the top near the date, addressed using a salutation and signed off with a closing such as "Very Truly Yours" or "Sincerely."
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.