A question of style

Just recently, I took a brief in a matter where the opposing solicitor (let’s call him A)  has in the past briefed me a few times.

I drafted a long and fairly careful letter for my instructing solicitor (let’s call him B) to send to A, explaining the usual sorts of things – why A’s foreshadowed submissions were misconceived, the perils to A’s client of running up costs should B’s client be put to the expense of preparing evidence to meet them, and inviting A’s client to adopt a more sensible approach.  B sent the letter to A.  There is to be a hearing very soon. 

I saw a missed call on my mobile phone and rang the number.  A’s secretary answered and I had a momentary crisis of embarrassment: was A going to ask me to appear in the same matter? So far as I was aware, A did not know that I was involved.

Fortunately that was not the situation.  It turned out that A had already spoken to B.  At B’s suggestion he was ringing me to discuss the case.  But it wasn’t B who told him that I was involved.  A had already divined that I wrote the letter: the first thing he had said on the phone to B was “I’ve just received [Marcellous’s] letter.”

There are over 2,000 barristers in NSW and this case is a different type of case from those in which A has previously instructed me.  Naturally, I have since pored over my letter trying to identify just exactly what were the tell-tale signs which enabled A to identify my authorship, although I am aware that I am probably the person least equipped to identify them.  Were they good points or bad points? (Quite possibly they were both.) Or were they simply neutral but distinctive points?

Whichever way, it was pretty funny.

On an unrelated topic, comical spelling error of the day yesterday came in another opposing solicitor’s letter, asking for information so that he could determine “the voracity of your client’s claim.”

One Response to “A question of style”

  1. Legal Eagle Says:

    I saw a letter by one of my friends published in the paper (obviously it was attributed to him). It reminded me exactly of the style of an anonymous blogger I like to read. When I next saw him, I said, “Hey, are you that anonymous blogger?” He was gobsmacked. “How do you know?” I told him about the letter in the paper. He was freaked out.

    People definitely have a style. I think any of my students would probably recognise my blog as mine, just because it has those turns of phrase I like to read. As I’ve been marking exams, I think I can guess which students are mine because they use my turns of phrase in describing things!

    Love the spelling error. Spell checker wouldn’t pick that up… All too funny.

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