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For lawyers, formality is key when sending e-mails

When it comes to e-mails, lawyers should be sure to choose their words wisely and err on the side of formality, Toronto real estate lawyer Lisa Laredo tells Lawyers Weekly.

While e-mail generally has ample room for error and misunderstanding, for lawyers handling complex cases, the stakes are even higher, says the article, as lawyers have to keep in mind that e-mail communication is permanent and may come into play in court.

“All correspondence can be made public and used against you,” says Laredo. “I recommend always choosing your words wisely and remembering they could come back to haunt you...The contents should be [as] precise as possible but with sufficient context to be understood," she adds.

In general, she explains, legal e-mails should be as formal as possible, avoiding abbreviations and slang. Laredo tells Lawyers Weekly that lawyers should avoid writing anything of a personal nature, which may be misconstrued. Lawyers should also avoid personal criticism in e-mails, she says, which could be detrimental to a case if the message becomes public.

“I would rather be too formal than too informal,” Laredo says. “We are dealing with a formal business relationship. Formality is a sign of respect.”

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