Communicating with clients can be difficult, especially when you are trying to convey your legal opinion to them. When I first started writing opinions, I had a tendency to write a lot and try to explain every detail to the client. This often resulted in lengthy opinions that weren’t accessible for the client. A tip that was given to me by a mentor was to think about what the most important part of the opinion or letter was, then focus on getting that piece of information to the client as soon as possible, ideally on the first page.
If the most important part is your recommendation for the next course of action on the file or a conclusion about the client’s legal position, lead with that, then explain the why and the how. While we want our clients to understand why we’re making the recommendations we are or how we’ve evaluated their legal position, what they really want to know (and what they’re paying you for) is the conclusion. Keep the why and the how in the opinion so that the client can review if they’d like, but don’t make the client sift through it to get to what they really want to know.
– Charlene Scheffelmair (@cscheffy11)