First Impressions in the Business of Law

Styles_1A lot has been said about first impressions in the business of law.  Does your letterhead look fancy, are your business cards engraved, is your correspondence well written and free of typographical errors? 

While all that is still important, I feel one aspect of professional appearance is rarely mentioned.  Does your lawyer (or other professional service firm) produce perfectly formatted electronic documents?  I think any agreement of more than a couple of pages drafted by a lawyer should be formatted using proper styles, outline numbering and so forth (or the equivalent in another program).  Anything else just looks like "tippex on the screen" to me.

In the end, it’s not just cosmetics; proper electronic documents benefit the client.  Making changes to a poorly formatted agreement takes much longer than making changes to a properly formatted document.  While secretaries can do the typing and rearranging of the sections, attorneys still have to check the end product.  I wonder how many associate hours are being wasted every day by manually checking cross references and section numbering in poorly formatted agreements? 

If you are a lawyer reading this and don’t have a good template to use for your agreements, check out Ken Adam’s agreement templates here (which I assume are free for the taking) and learn (or have your secretary learn) how to use styles.  The templates are excellent.

Just my humble opinion.

About Imke Ratschko

Imke Ratschko is a New York Attorney helping small businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs with all things "Small Business Law," such as litigation, contracts, business owner disputes, shareholder and operating agreements, sale or purchase of a business, investors, and starting a business. You can reach her at 212.253.1027.

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