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Virtual Paralegalism

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Say What? (Or Proofread All Business Correspondence Very Carefully)

I recently started collecting written professional “bloopers”, partly because it is crucial for legal professionals have excellent writing skills. Much like that intense wild-haired guy on the beach with his metal detector (sorry, Dad), who carefully sweeps the sand for buried Rolex watches but ends up unearthing mostly pop can tabs, I feel a bit of a (dorky) thrill when I stumble across the occasional unintended and sometimes alarming business communication.

For example, one of our workers’ compensation clients with an accepted claim was very upset about a letter he received from a medical provider’s patient billing office. The letter bluntly stated, “The administrator refuses to pay this account because it says the client is terminated.”

Our client’s first impression was that he had been fired from his job of many years with no notice from his employer. Then he wondered if someone was implying that he was dead. Either way, the letter understandably scared him.

In reality, the employer had terminated its relationship with the third party administrator. An added bonus for my blooper collection was that the letter author (first name changed for many reasons) had signed the letter: “Mary Collections.” Trust me, I called about the account, and that was not her last name.

Another recent piece of correspondence requested that the recipient “please bare with us” while the request was processed. On its face, that seemed to be a polite, if overly intimate request.

I also get a lot of correspondence which confirms that my requests have been “dually noted.” Does that mean that they have been noted twice?

And I bet I cannot find anyone in the legal profession who has not received written notice alleging that a “statue has expired.” Not to “beat a dead horse” but it was never alive. (I know. I can hear your collective groaning!)

If you have a favorite written professional “blooper” that you would like to share (without identifying or embarrassing the sender of course), please E-mail it to me. I will happily (and gleefully) update this post and give you credit for sharing.

2 Responses to Say What? (Or Proofread All Business Correspondence Very Carefully)

  1. The first blooper that comes to mind was one I avoided on behalf of my boss. Being of different generations, he decided he’d say in a letter that he “hooked up” – or was going to hook up, I forget – with another attorney. More familiar than he with current slang, I changed his wording. I also shared his gaff with him (we have that kind of relationship) and know he knows better!

  2. Names changed to protect the innocent:

    The outgoing letter was signed,
    Very truly yours,
    Attorney H. Name

    Johnson Montgomery Firm

    The reply was addressed to
    Mr. Johnson M. Firm and began, Dear Mr. Firm:

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]gmail.com

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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