Monthly Archives: October 2007

Jargon watch – Enclosed herewith

Please stop talking like your lawyer-grandparents. It’s not scholarly, it’s not professional, and it doesn’t impress anyone except non-lawyers. If that’s how you boost your self esteem, you’re in the wrong business.

For example take the antiquity, “please find enclosed herewith.” Yes, I still see this all the time — even in email messages from recent law school graduates.
What are you trying to say? “Please start digging through this mound of stuff and maybe, in here, with it, you will find something I’m sending you.” Of course not. All you’re trying to say is “I have enclosed X.” If that’s what you mean, say it. “Dear Rantor, I have enclosed the drafts I described this morning.”

Or how about “inter alia“, “supra” and “assuming arguendo.” Perhaps these gems have a place in formal legal briefs (I have my doubts), but they have no place in routine communications. What’s wrong with “among other things”, “above”, and “assuming for argument’s sake”?

If you want to keep your clients on your side, write using words they will understand — not the secret code of lawyer lingo. I’m not starting the “plain English vs precision” debate; we can do that another time. I am suggesting, however, that we drop the lawyerly affectations and write simply and clearly. Your clients might even read your letters for a change.

The Marketing Lunch: Why yes, it IS all about me

As a GC you get lots of lunch invitations from lawyers who want to start a business relationship. I turn most of them down because they’re generally a waste of time.

The other day I had lunch with a lawyer I used to work for when I was with The Big Firm(TM). It had been a while since we had talked. We hadn’t been particularly close, but I thought that maybe, just maybe, with all his experience, I could (for once) have lunch with a “pro” who knew how to make it rain. It would be fun to admire an expert in action, and share some of his better techniques in this blog. Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well and it was another wasted afternoon.

This lunch, like so many others before it, was the “blue plate special” of marketing lunches.

  • Small talk before ordering
  • How big the firm is
  • Where our offices are
  • Our practice areas
  • My practice area
  • Is there anything we can do for you? We’d sure like your business.

What’s missing from this list? Oh. Right. How about a question about MY company? What’s going on with MY industry? What’s on MY stay-awake list? Is MY staff sufficient to support the increasing demands from our internal customers?

That’s right, it IS all about me.

Let me let you in on a secret: We love talking about our company, our challenges, our successes, and our industry. Simply put, we like talking about ourselves.

Your job is to fill my needs. How will you know my needs without asking? Better yet, how will you help me discover my needs unless you probe the periphery? You should be doing no more than 50% of the talking.

Ask me about me, and then listen.