Write for the Judge

Write for the Judge

A lawyer once told me, “You are always writing for the judge”.  By this he meant that when writing a letter or e-mail, always bear in mind that it may one day wind up before the judge in a court room.

True, he was discussing correspondence in a litigation file, but I would say the same applies to the average business owner.

While when beginning a relationship with a new customer, things usually seem rosy, the reality is that there is litigation and many relationships that start strong, end in litigation.

Because of that, it is important to always crucial to take great care when sending an invoice or emailing the customer.   This is because if the matter turns to litigation, that email you fired off in a hurry while in a bad mood, may one day be used against you.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider prior to sending out anything in writing:

  1. Read and re-read your message.  Can it be construed in any way other than your intended message?  If so, then revise the message.
  2. Avoid dirty or inappropriate jokes.  Remember, someone who is your friend now can one day be your foe in court and will not hesitate to air your dirty laundry.
  3. Do NOT send anything when upset.  Often what seems appropriate as an email when in a fit of anger, looks very foolish after an hour’s break to gather your thoughts.  If you’re angry at a customer, take a one hour breather than write to him.

While it seems tedious to do this for every email, by incorporating these suggestions into your routine, you will be able to do it mentally and quickly, and you will be thankful you did in the event of litigation.