A lawyer’s letter, properly written, can be a thing of beauty. In recent months, we’ve shared with you a very funny settlement offer letter, an epic response to a cease-and-desist letter, and another C&D response that laid the smackdown on a top Biglaw firm.
But sometimes snarky letters miss the mark. Take this prospective law student’s response to a rejection letter. Some readers appreciated it, but many others (myself included) felt it went too far.
A fine line separates wit and obnoxiousness. And reasonable minds can disagree on whether a given letter embodies the former or the latter.
We recently got our hands on an amazing lawyer’s letter out of Los Angeles. It was written a while ago, but it’s only making the rounds now. What do you make of it?
We’re going to present it without commentary; res ipsa loquitur. There’s not much you need to know. Our tipster tells all: “The background is the client, who is roommates with the lawyer, needed a new air conditioner in his/her apartment. Just… wow. Enjoy!”
Read the letter below, which we’ve reprinted in full and with only minor alterations (e.g., not spelling out the N-word), then take our poll. And feel free to read through the links collected at the end of this post for other notable lawyerly letters you might have missed.
From: [L.A. Lawyer]
To: [Building Manager]
Subject: RE: Follow Up
Exactly. I do NOT want to have to bring a consumer class action against you and your company for the Freon thing — which is illegal under California statute and poses a significant health risk. However, I know exactly how to plan/plead/maintain such class actions in California or Federal court, if you and your superiors choose to put me to the test.
I also do NOT want to have to use my personal contacts in the Los Angeles city government to initiate an investigation of your company on the Freon thing. I really do have better things to do with my $600/hour billable business day than to deal with the incompetence and lawlessness of your corporation and its underlings.
However, when I am confronted with people who treat me as if I were stupid or powerless (as [your] staff have, and as your letter of the other day appeared to), then I become personally incensed. Then, I do not feel that I have to turn the proverbial “other cheek” or show mercy. I am a Jew who was born and raised in Manhattan, New York; accordingly, as Mayor Ed Koch noted in 1989, being miserable and hating everyone around me is my God-given birthright. Since then, I have acquired a law degree and have spent most of my adult life figuring out how to expose corporations who take advantage of ordinary Americans, which is how I earn the money to pay the rent your corporation charges me.
Accordingly, when [my client] tells me that, amazingly, you somehow think that it is OUR responsibility to force YOUR staff to document instances in which we ask them to make repairs to our apartment or otherwise have an issue… then, as I think back to all the nights in May and June I had to spend sweating in our apartment because of your staff… then, I start to become very, very angry. And I start to think that, maybe, I SHOULD spend some of my time over the weeks and months ahead making sure that the Board of Directors of your corporation and its insurers and outside counsel LEARN EXACTLY HOW TO SPELL MY NAME.
So, as [my client] noted, we look forward to you doing the right thing.
There is a brilliant black hip-hop artist born and bred in Los Angeles named O’Shea Jackson, aka “Ice Cube.” In 1992, he wrote a song entitled, “I’m The Wrong N**ger To Fuck With.” Ice Cube’s work as a lyricist and poet is all about how large corporations like yours have oppressed black people in Southern California since the 1800’s, and how on a systemic basis black people in America have been treated like sub-humans by white people since before the American Revolution.
Given the way that you and [your] crack staff have treated us, apparently you seem to think that I and [my client] indeed are “n**gers,” i.e., that we are mentally handicapped, uneducated, inexperienced in business, and politically and legally powerless; the melanin content of our skins or our genetic backgrounds are irrelevant to the observation. In other words, you seem to think that you and your corporation are better and smarter than us, and that you and your corporation can treat us like helpless children and abuse us financially and mentally.
However, [building manager], please note that I and [my client] most assuredly are not “n**gers” in any sense of the word, and please note that if we are further toyed with and insulted by you and your organization, I will be obliged to prove that fact to you and your superiors in court and in the press over the years to come.
This L.A. lawyer's letter is...
- Atrocious! Can you say "overreaction"? (72%, 1,850 Votes)
- Awesome! Way to stick it to The Man. (28%, 728 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,577
Earlier: Now THIS Is a Great Settlement Offer Letter
A Great Response to a Cease and Desist Letter
This May Be An Even Greater Response To A Cease And Desist Letter
Would-Be Law Student Responds To Rejection Letter As Only A Future Lawyer Can — By Being A Tool