Lawyer Letters

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….

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Litigators can fall victim to their own imaginations. It’s really built into the system when they’re encouraged to write their exhaustive wishlists during discovery and fill their own dreams with visions of terabytes of entirely incriminating evidence. When discovery inevitably fails to live up to those dreams, litigators have to make a decision between accepting disappointment or accusing the other side of wrongdoing for failing to fulfill those sugarplum visions. Litigators are basically Captain Hindsight, constantly shocked — SHOCKED — that no one understood years ago how important something would be to a case today.

Kirkland & Ellis chose the latter, writing counsel for a non-party — yes, a non-party — suggesting that he was withholding evidence because he hadn’t kept every single email they thought he might have from four years — yep, four years — earlier.

And then this guy’s lawyer went brutally funny on them….

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That’s what an attorney for The Dirty is saying in a letter that TMZ calls “the most sarcastic letter we’ve ever seen in the 9 years of TMZ.” The Dirty may be best known among our readers from the ongoing Sarah Jones saga, in which a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader turned high school teacher was convicted of sleeping with her student and sued The Dirty after the site claimed she’d slept with every member of the Bengals team. Which was obviously false, because when Jones worked there the Bengals were incapable of scoring like that.

Now The Dirty provoked the ire of Casper Smart, Jennifer Lopez’s ex. Smart has generated a lot of rumor-mongering over the past few weeks, with the most salacious starting in the comments section of The Dirty, where two transsexuals claimed they hooked up with Smart. J.Lo’s love may not cost a thing, but that love might cost a J.Lo — or so the argument goes.

Smart says this isn’t true and did what any self-respecting quasi-celebrity would do: he wrote a threatening letter to The Dirty. The Dirty’s counsel responded with all the sarcastic righteous rage you’d expect….

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Millionaire playboy Dan Bilzerian threw a naked woman off a roof, as millionaire playboys are wont to do. Seriously, the number of naked women hurled off Gracie Mansion during the Bloomberg years defies calculation. This woman survived and made noise about suing. That sounds reasonable enough, except apparently the woman, porn star Janice Griffith, had contracted with genteel periodical Hustler to be “picked up by nature’s handlebar” and tossed off the roof into a waiting pool. That she broke her foot in the process is, from Bilzerian’s perspective, not his fault.

Nonetheless, she suggested filing suit, and Bilzerian’s lawyer responded with one of the most epically brutal takedown letters ever.

And it’s by a lawyer you all know.

So if you want to (a) see a video (appropriately blurred out) of what we’re talking about, (b) read the hilarious letter, or (c) just find out what famed lawyer is this funny, by all means click on….

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Here’s a message to all lawyers drafting demand letters. Before you fire off that deliciously evil, in-your-face, incendiary letter replete with all those unreasonable demands you dreamed up over the last 30 minutes of editing, take a good hard look at what you’ve written, and then stop. Just… stop.

What did you think you were going to gain? Did you hope it would help your letter stand out? Prove to your adversary that you’re really serious? Set a bold opening bid for negotiations? Are there visions of a terrified person reading your letter and running to the phone to give your client everything under the sun?

Because none of that is going to happen. All you’ve managed to do is torpedo your credibility… and now you’ll probably end up getting trolled by a popular legal industry website.

Take, for example, these guys, whose string of ridiculous demands not only failed to reduce their adversary to jelly, it elicited a declaratory judgment suit.

So the question is, “Would You Rather: Be self-satisfied over your own cleverness or save your client from litigation?”

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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?

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It’s so refreshing when the filings and correspondence in celebrity lawsuits live up to personalities involved. So it’s a tremendous joy when a bombastic and confrontational figure has a lawyer willing to colorfully snark up a settlement offer… and then let that letter leak so we can all revel in it.

In this case, the litigant is retired former All-Star Jack Clark, who is being sued by the still-active, but nonetheless also former All-Star Albert Pujols, after Clark repeatedly and publicly accused Pujols of using steroids. How much of a career dick is Jack Clark? His Wikipedia entry uses the words “rift,” “feuded,” and “enjoyed playing for manager Billy Martin.”

In any event, Clark’s lawyer endeavored to make a settlement offer worthy of his client and produced an enjoyable read for all involved. So let’s take a look at what Clark offered Albert Pujols, if that is his real name….

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If you enjoy fashion, check out our sister site, Fashionista.com.

Fashion law is a quickly-growing specialty practice area — a place where lawyers can aspire to dress stylishly while honing their legal skills in the glamorous world of haute couture law. You may never see all of the models and bottles a career in law once guaranteed, but you might get to work on their contracts.

A lawyer working in the business of beauty can expect to do a great deal of intellectual property work (after all, trademark law is sexier when you’re doing it in designer duds). An IP student group at a leading law school took that to heart, and decided to hold a symposium on the topic of fashion law.

The students pulled out all the stops for the event: they got Biglaw sponsorship, they created an eye-catching flyer, and they lined up some of the greats of the fashion law world to speak. Needless to say, they expected a great turnout.

What they didn’t expect was to be on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter from a high-end fashion house….

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Have you ever noticed that some lawyers become different people when they get in front of a keyboard?

It’s like a Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of thing. They might be perfectly pleasant individuals in real life, capable of warmth or at least civility to their fellow human beings. But get them in front of a computer with a law-firm template on the screen, and they turn into some sort of lawyerly unmanned drone.

Most lawyers, especially junior lawyers, have an idea about what a lawyer letter is supposed to look like. It generally has fancy lawyerly words like “pursuant to,” and it usually includes lawyerly weirdnesses like parenthetically writing numbers in figures after having just spelled out the numbers in words (“If we do not receive a response for you and/or your counsel in five (5) days …”), and it almost always contains threats about Very Bad Things happening. And they tend to be uniformly douchey.

But here are four (4) reasons why lawyer letters are less effective than phone calls.…

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