Lawyer Letters

After slogging through 4 weeks of Sweet Sixteen voting, we’ve finally identified the eight best lawyer letters ever featured in the pages of ATL. Unsurprisingly, the seeding largely held — after all, that’s what good seeding does — but there were also some critical upsets, especially where stories from different eras clashed.

And so now that we’ve pared the field down to a manageable number (not that 16 isn’t manageable generally, but when half the entries have similar titles it would be a mess) we finally have a bracket image to work with.

So it’s time for you to vote!

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Now for the last 4 contenders in our lawyer letter bracket. Be sure to check out the previous three installments where polls are still active for another week. Here’s Day 1Day 2, and Day 3. As of right now, there are a pair of upsets in the offing.

Let’s see how the final tally turns out next week when we begin the Elite Eight….

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We’re halfway through the first round of this epic bracket. We’ve got polls active right now from Day 1 and Day 2 featuring eight different lawyer letters — seeded by all-time traffic — vying for a trip to the Elite Eight.

Now the next four entrants join the party.

Do you remember these gems of legal authorship?

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Welcome back!

Last week, we kicked off The ATL Lawyer Letter Bracket by letting you choose your favorite piece of lawyer writing from the annals of ATL. Day 1 pitted No. 4, The Greatest Response To A Cease And Desist Letter, Probably Written While Drunk, against No. 13, This May Be The Best Cease And Desist Letter Ever Written, and No. 5, This May Be An Even Greater Response To A Cease And Desist Letter, against No. 12, Scathing Letter Suggests Smart Lawyer A Dumb [Expletive].

Today we have the next four teams in our competition looking for your vote….

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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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