How to Write an Introductory Letter

By Rosalie Hamilton

Your printed materials represent you in your absence. What do they say about your professionalism, your thoroughness, and your attention to detail? The most important points to include in an introductory, or solicitation, letter are the subject line and the P.S. (postscript).

The attorneys who will read your letter bill their time by the hour. They condition themselves to scan for main points and skip the prose when they are not working on billable time (and probably even when they are). To increase the odds of the letter being read, the subject or reference line should indicate the topic of the letter, e.g., Environmental Litigation Expert or Earning Capacity Studies.

The letter should be direct and succinct and, preferably, not more than three short paragraphs on one page. The first paragraph introduces you and why you are contacting the recipient, and the second states the benefits of using your services, usually including the quality of your credentials. The third closes with a friendly request that the reader call for more information, engage your services, or keep your information on file for future use. Marketing jargon calls these three points bait, argument, and call to action.

The “bait” does not have to be as clever as it might for a letter aimed at creating a need rather than filling one that already exists (attorneys know they need expert witnesses). You can make the first sentence somewhat provocative: “Claims in the area of xxx are increasing daily! As a xxx I can offer competent and comprehensive assistance in the following areas:” or moderate: “As a clinical pharmacist I understand the challenges you face in clarifying issues associated with drug-related injuries and adverse outcomes,” or merely state that you are sending your materials for his possible use.

Construction attorneys already know that data management is the critical factor in litigating complex construction cases. Therefore, the problem the attorney needs for an expert witness to solve in construction litigation can be presented in the ‘argument’ – the body of the letter – rather than the first paragraph.

Do not forget to ask for the business. Do not appear desperate or overly eager but, certainly, interested.

Add a P.S. that will lodge in the reader’s mind – “One of few vocational rehabilitation experts with Assistive Technology Expertise.”

The letter is accompanied by either a curriculum vitae (CV) or a shorter biographical sketch, and a business card. (Most experts’ CV’s are lengthy and therefore it is too costly to include them in initial solicitation mailings, and an attorney would not take time to read a long CV unless he were already interested.)

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Rosalie Hamilton

Rosalie Hamilton, Founder and President of Expert Communications, creates customized marketing plans for expert witnesses. Formerly the Expert Witness Marketing Coordinator for Texas Lawyer (newspaper) and its parent company, American Lawyer Media, she has over twenty years of experience in sales, marketing, publishing and training, and has given numerous presentations on the marketing style appropriate for the legal field. She is the author of “The Expert Witness Marketing Book” and writes articles for numerous expert witness newsletters and professional organization publications.

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