Demand Letter Gone Wrong


My Google images search for “attorney yelling” could not have gone better. Exhibit 1. If you can explain to me the connection between a crocodile eating a python (AWESOME!!!) and an attorney yelling, you will get a prize.

One of the topics I end up teaching students is how to draft a demand letter.  I cover the basics: (1) make a demand; (2) make the demand for a date certain; (3) use the persuasive voice; and (4) document the legal and factual basis for your claim.

While I emphasize that the purpose of a demand letter is to prompt resolution of the matter prior to litigation, I do not generally discuss in depth the distinction between persuasive voice and extortion.  It’s never really been an issue.


Exhibit 2: Lionel Hutz, you are missed.

But now I can point to a counterexample of a demand letter gone wrong.  Apparently, a judge considered this demand letter to rise to the level of extortion:

Whether the implicit threat of revealing salacious details rises to the level of extortion is a tough call, but also an issue that could have been avoided altogether through a more professional, law-focused approach.  (“Law-focused” = focused on your legal claims and the relevant facts that support them–not overblown rhetoric and lurid details.  I mean . . . “see enclosed photo”?–really?)

Remember people: You’re a lawyer–not an agent, not a bully, and not a politician.  A lawyer.  Act like one!


Exhibit 3: During the years I was practicing, I made this face on a daily basis.


2 responses to “Demand Letter Gone Wrong

  1. On the crocodile eating the python: everyone knows that lawyers like python skin shoes, purse, wallets, etc. This photo was cropped, and just outside the frame is a lawyer, yelling (wailing, really) about the imminent loss of so much high quality python skin. Simple connection, really. 🙂

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