It seems that in the legal field, it is hard to break old habits–especially in the use of antiquated phrases. One of my least favorite is “enclosed please find.” If you are enclosing something, you only need to say “enclosed is” or “enclosed are” (if you are enclosing more than one thing). That says all that you need to say. You don’t need to fill up a piece of paper or an email with words for the sake of thinking you sound more intelligent when getting the point across and saving your reader time will serve the same purpose. Here are more phrases that you should stop using:
- Above-referenced. If your communication has a “re:” line, and later in the letter you say “In the above-referenced case,” the reader has a tendency to have their eyes drift back up to the re: line and then back down to re-find their place. Instead use the re: line, but if you refer to it again, say “In the Smith v. Jones case” so your reader doesn’t get interrupted from your message.
- Under separate cover. If you are sending something else separately, say “I am sending you separately (or by FedEx, etc.)
- Please note that. This phrase is unnecessary. You don’t need to ask them to note something, just tell them and they are smart enough to at least mentally make note of it.
- I am forwarding. Saying “I am sending” says the same thing without being so formal.
- Please do not hesitate to contact me. What you’re asking them to do is to call or email you, so say “Please call me” or “Please contact me” (giving them the option for the most convenient method for them) instead.
- At your earliest convenience. Give a specific date or just leave this phrase out.
- With regard to. Use “regarding” instead.
- In the event that. It is so much simpler to say “if.”
- Pursuant to your request. “As requested” says the same thing.
- The undersigned. You are talking about yourself, so just say “I.”
Speak in correspondence (letters and emails) more like you would speak on the telephone and much less formally. Your clients and coworkers already know you are intelligent. Speaking in such a formal way doesn’t make you any more intelligent.
Ease up and be less formal so your reader doesn’t have to wade through a bunch of stuff that is unnecessary to get to your message. Make it easy for them (and you) by using less formal language in your communications.