Write it once, use it forever


I’m sure you have a welcome letter you mail to new clients. You probably also use some kind of “memo” or form to accompany mailed documents, along with check boxes to indicate what the recipient should do (e.g., sign and return, review, etc.)

Form letters save time and reduce the risk of errors or omissions and I encourage you to create them for all aspects of your practice.

Gmail has a feature called “canned responses”. Outlook and other email applications have something similar. They allow you to create email templates or “form letters” you can use instead of composing an original email each time, or copying and pasting paragraphs or whole emails from another document.

Go through your “sent” emails for the last 60 or 90 days and look for “frequently sent emails,” whether originated by you or sent in response to an inquiry. Flag them for creating canned responses.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • I got your email (and will reply soon/this week/after I review your questions)
  • Thank you (for coming in, calling, returning documents, for your help)
  • Here’s what to do/expect (what happens next, watch your mail, please call me, don’t forget to send us)
  • Answers to FAQs (hours, parking, fees, practice areas. Provide answers and/or direct to pages on your website)
  • Marketing inquiries (do you accept advertising, guest posts; I’m available for interviews)
  • Checking in (with clients, former clients, networking contacts)
  • Nice to meet you (after a networking event, introduction, phone conversation)
  • Announcing (new content on your website, firm news, new laws/regs)
  • Promoting (your newsletter, your ebook, your seminar, your podcast or youtube channel)
  • Reminders (next appointment, court dates, due dates)
  • It’s time to review (your lease, trust, corporate docs, agreements, legal status)

In addition to complete emails, you can set up a “library” of frequently used paragraphs, links, and subject lines.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to set up different “email signatures”.

For prospective clients, your signature might promote a free report or free consultation, invite them to connect with you on social, or invite them to review specific pages on your website. For existing clients, your signature might invite them to sign up for your “clients only” email list or cross-promote other services offered by you or your firm.

Using canned responses, form letters, and checklists might save you 30 minutes a day, or more. How much would that be worth to you over the course of a year?

Leverage is the key to earning more and working less. More


Collection attorney sends wrong form letter to debtor, includes advice on debtor’s rights


It happens. Someone screws up and the threatening letter that was supposed to go to a debtor inadvertently contains language advising the debtor about his rights and options in defending against collection.


I heard about it and I could feel the attorney’s pain. We’ve all sent letters out with mistakes in them or sent letters or emails to the wrong party.

It’s embarrassing, to say the least. It could present legal and ethical issues. And it has the potential to cause a good client to leave and never come back.

In this case, somebody keyed in the wrong code. The wrong boilerplate was included in the letter and nobody caught the error.

The problem was compounded by the fact that a draft of that letter was not sent to the client (creditor) prior to being sent to the debtor. The firm does a boatload of collection letters and they are nearly always the right letter sent to the right party. “Why add expense and delay to the process,” I suppose they were thinking.

Well, aside from the fact that the client would have caught the error the attorney and his staff missed, from a marketing and client relations standpoint, it is the correct thing to do.

It shows the client that you respect him and value his input. It allows the client to feel involved in the process. And it builds the value of what you do.

It may be a form letter, but you want the client to feel that you at least took a moment to consider what he told you about the case and put some thought into the letter you are sending on his behalf.

Unless there is a prior understanding to the contrary, an attorney should send everything to the client, before they send it out or file it and again after they send it out or file it.

Okay, it didn’t happen in this case. The client is upset. Instead of threatening the debtor and getting them to pay up, their attorney advised the debtor about his rights, making it less likely that they will pay.

Now what? What should the attorney do?

From a legal perspective, there probably isn’t a whole lot he can do. He can send a “oops, wrong letter” letter and hope to clean up some of the damage, but who knows whether or not that will work.

From a client relations standpoint, the attorney should:

  • Take personal responsibility for the error and not blame anyone else in the office or try to excuse it as a computer glitch
  • Apologize profusely, in writing, on the phone, and in person
  • Cancel the fee for the letter and send another letter at no charge
  • Offer to handle the collection for free or at a greatly reduced fee

In addition, the attorney should explain to the client what happened and tell them the steps he is taking to ensure that it won’t happen again, not just for this client but for all of his clients.

Clients understand that mistakes happen. They want to see you own up to them, fix them, and prevent them from happening in the future. Most of all, they want to see that you care about them and are willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy. Especially when you screw up.

Marketing is everything we do to get and keep good clients. Here’s how.