Mason Hayes Solicitors

Letter Drafting

I think that one of the most valuable things that you learn when you start your training contract is letter writing skills.  This is something that you will think you are already able to do like I did when I first started.  However, I remember during my LPC I was informed by tutors that many firms had contacted law schools to complain about the low level of letter writing skills that trainees possessed when they were starting at firms.  As part of the LPC we therefore had to do a short module on letter writing skills.  Whilst this was useful to a certain extent, like anything else, you cannot truly appreciate and develop the necessary skills involved until you put them into practice.

When I first started and was dealing with simpler matters, the letters I drafted were quite straight forward and, more often than not, there would be a good precedent you could use to steer the way.  However, when I had to draft a letter, everything was questioned from my sentence structure to my grammar (which I must admit I found difficult to take at first!).

However, as I have progressed on to working on more complex matters, my letter writing skills have developed and I now feel more confident in drafting lengthier strategic letters.  Further, my grammar is (thankfully!) very rarely questioned these days.  This is something that comes with time and experience it is important to remember that there is always room for improvement.  My next big step is to draft a lengthy Letter of Claim on a fast track matter which is a thought that fills me with a certain amount of dread.

I suppose one of the top tips I can give is not to rely on a precedent blindly and hope that this will suffice.  If it were that easy then we would not need lawyers in the first place!  Of course building up a precedent bank is essential but you must always consider the content of the precedent and what is and is not relevant to the matter at hand.  Don’t be afraid to add points in if you think they are relevant as it may be that you think of something to strengthen your client’s case that has not previously been thought of.

As a trainee solicitor you have already passed some quite heavy exams and it is hoped therefore that your writing skills are already of a high standard.  I think the main challenge is ensuring that you fit into the firm’s style and to take all criticism as constructive in order to ensure that you improve.

Until next month,

Kimberley

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