My Lowly Case

I’ve been given almost free reign to talk to TLI blog readers about what I’ve been hearing and thinking about and the first topic that comes to mind is… none other than capitalization.

Every day my job is made easier by the wonderful attorneys, marketing professionals and public relations practitioners who send me press releases outlining the latest legal happenings. I’m not one of those reporters who takes a look at the first line and throws it out, or who gets angry when after five pages the fax machine is still humming. I have to admit I actually appreciate longer releases with plenty of background information and fun statistics. What I have found somewhat troublesome  – – and I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this here ––  is the use of capitalization. It Seems That Law Firms Love To Capitalize. 

While I am far from a grammarian ––  thank goodness for copy editors ––  I’m fairly certain that in the world of proper nouns practice areas, executive committees and certainly the words “law” and “firm” are not, on their own, worthy of the not-so-elusive capital letter.

If firms are hoping that reporters will cut and paste portions of press releases for direct use… placing as many capital letters as possible will not help accomplish this goal. Reporters just get aggravated when we constantly have to use the left arrow, delete, shift combo to replace the capital. This post certainly is not meant to offend, although I fear I will now find words like “joined” and “lawyer” looking more like Joined and Lawyer as punishment for my petty complaints. Oh well. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

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3 Comments on “My Lowly Case”

  1. DRF Says:

    Dear Gina:

    The problem you describe is even broader in our profession. Lawyers tend to capitalize all sorts of words that standard English manuals would tell us not to capitalize. My theory is that, in drafting transactional documents, complaints, motions, et cetera, lawyers create defined terms (e.g., the complaint that was filed on March 12, 2007 (the “Complaint”)). They get so used to seeing everyday nouns capitalized that they begin to believe it’s appropriate even when a word is not defined in the document. I agree it’s annoying.

  2. Henry Lenard Says:

    As a Law Firm Marketing person I appreciated your critique of News/Press Releases from Law Firms and plead guilty to just such a Capital Offense on occasion.

  3. Gina:

    Good points you make. I’ve noticed the same thing. When I worked at a defense firm five years ago, I’d receive many emails from colleagues with all capital letters. It was as if someone was shouting at me. There, the reason for it was that the billable time entries had to be done in all CAPS. I found it a bit obnoxious though- that the sender couldn’t take two seconds to turn off the caps lock. Not only does it look bad, it’s very difficult to read. Not the biggest deal in the world, but can be aggravating, for sure. I think DRF (above comment) makes a great point too.

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