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Does it make a difference if the paralegal sign the attorney's name to the letter?

Norcross, GA |

does it make a difference if the paralegal sign the attorney's name to the letter?
does it make a difference if the letter id signed with attorney's name with notation that it was singed "by" the paralegal?

Attorney Answers 2

  1. Since you tell us nothing about the letter, what it says or how it affects you there is no way to answer you. Lawyers often have staff members send out letters under their supervision.

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  2. In the past few months, I've received several letters signed by the President, as well as a signed photograph. I don't think I can get much for them, even if he wins. Abraham Lincoln had his secretary (Stoddard) sign most of his routine correspondence, but Stoddard's signature, with a "by" would appear on the document.

    If the letter is signed "Joe Blow, Esq. by P.L.", and is simply a cover letter, or routine request for information, such as a request for medical bills in a car crash case, fine. Where my staff has signed letters of this sort in their own name, stating their non-lawyer positions, I have frequently gotten back correspondence addressed to the staff member as a lawyer, with a greeting , "Dear Attorney _______". This could turn out to be unamusing under certain circumstances.

    If the letter contains legal substance or advice, it should always be signed by the attorney and nobody else. In ancient times, say pre-1990, when legal secretaries roamed the earth, and men spoke only to dictaphones, and women transcribed them (men being congenitally unable to type, or perhaps to spell), the dictator's and dictatee's (who may have been the actual author, where the dictation was merely an outline) initials, separated by a colon, would appear at the bottom left of the letter.

    It would be improper for a paralegal to sign the lawyer's name without the "by",

    The foregoing answer does not establish an attorney client relationship, is not confidential, and should not be relied upon in place of an actual consultation with an attorney. Mr. Boone is licensed to practice in Massachusetts, before the U.S. Tax Court, and the Federal District Court of Massachusetts. Most initial consultations are free. Further information is available on my profile and at