One of the most popular recurring features on ATL is the intentionally (or unintentionally) funny lawyer letter. Cease-and-desist letter responses famously offer lawyers the most freedom to let their comedy flags fly, but we’ve profiled some pretty entertaining C&D letters, rants to executive agencies, settlement offers, and cover letters. They’ve covered intellectual property, political speech, and throwing porn stars off roofs.
With years of these hilarious letters piled up, it’s time to revisit the archives and determine a champion….
Over the next several Tuesdays, we’ll be featuring a showdown between the greatest lawyer letters written in ATL history. The field has been narrowed to 16 letters, which I’ve seeded based on their all-time traffic numbers.
In the interest of keeping this from getting overwhelming, in the first round we’ll handle this piecemeal — voting on 4 letters at a time. This gives everyone a chance to revisit the old letters and helps prevent confusion since pretty much every one of these things has some variant of “Greatest Letter Ever” as a title. You call that uncreative, we call that scientifically proven headline writing.
Let’s start in the middle, shall we? Here are the 4-13 and 5-12 matchups.
A bar in Missouri received a threatening letter from Starbucks over a beer named “Frappicino,” which was a little too close to “Frappuccino” for Seattle’s taste. This one is kind of fudging the title of “lawyer letter” since the bar’s owner wrote the letter pro se. Nonetheless, he earned himself an honorary J.D. in our hearts for his mocking response and solid grasp of some basic intellectual property concepts:
We never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away. I guess that with there being a Starbucks on every corner of every block in every city that some people may think they could get a Starbucks at a local bar. So that was our mistake.
The American Mustache Institute sent a C&D letter to the general counsel of the Boston Red Sox explaining that the recent success of the team infringed on AMI’s “Sexually Dynamic Mustached American Lifestyle.” The letter came from Dewey Ahmadinejad & Houssein, whom Staci described as “an incredibly fearsome firm bankrupt of empathy for opposing counsel when dropping litigation bombs.” Boston treated this letter as the joke that it was. Now sitting below .500, perhaps they’ve evoked the curse of the mustachioed.
Covington & Burling represented the American Bankers Association and wrote a snotty letter threatening a website for printing a directory of bank routing numbers in an easily searchable form. The banking industry saw the guide as a threat to their book sales. But the attorney for the website explained that regardless of how much they want the underlying information to be protected by intellectual property law, it just isn’t. “Even if one wants it like the Spice Girls want a ‘zigazig ha.’”
Casper Smart did not like the coverage he was getting from TheDirty.com. His lawyer sent a C&D letter, and the response was… fantastic. The lawyer for the gossip publication did not just set the record straight on the state of the law, he did it with biting, often cruel sarcasm. Which is exactly how we like it.
Well yee haw! You’re darn tootin’ Cowgirl — this isn’t our first time at the rodeo! But since this apparently is your first time, let me set the record straight for you on a few things.
He ultimately closes the letter with this:
So let’s vote. The voting will remain open until August 18, at 11:59 p.m.. After that we’ll be able to publish the results of all four weeks of round 1 matchups and move into the Elite Eight.
Which Is The Better Lawyer Letter?
- No. 4 -- The Greatest Response To A Cease And Desist Letter, Probably Written While Drunk (85%, 530 Votes)
- No. 13 -- This May Be The Best Cease And Desist Letter Ever Written (15%, 91 Votes)
Total Voters: 621
Which Is The Better Lawyer Letter?
- No. 5 -- This May Be An Even Greater Response To A Cease And Desist Letter (53%, 333 Votes)
- No. 12 -- Scathing Letter Suggests Smart Lawyer A Dumb [Expletive] (47%, 297 Votes)
Total Voters: 630
If you just want to read the letters in their original form without commentary, they are reproduced over the next few pages….
No. 4 The Greatest Response To A Cease And Desist Letter, Probably Written While Drunk
No. 13 This May Be The Best Cease And Desist Letter Ever Written
No. 5 This May Be An Even Greater Response To A Cease And Desist Letter
No. 12 Scathing Letter Suggests Smart Lawyer A Dumb [Expletive]