On Tuesday, we looked at two recent "F U letters." These letters, sent in response to legal claims that the recipient felt were lacking in merit, are not of the "let's settle this peacefully" variety -- they are of the die now, and die slowly variety. A well-crafted "F U letter" let's opposing counsel know that, not only are any claims frivolous, but that if they proceed, you will destroy them.
It's not always advisable to immediately reach for the rage button, however. Here are some tips for when and how to do so:
How strong is your case really? While you may view their claims as a load of horse feces, if they have an even barely tangible case (we're talking, enough to survive summary judgment), do you really want to pick a fight? Some would argue that poker faces, bluffing, and portraying confidence and aggression can intimidate away weaker cases before they're filed. Maybe they're right, and if that's your style, go with it.
But beware that once you bring emotion into the game, if they have even a slightly tangible claim, the odds of a quick settlement are going to drop dramatically.
To speak in country boy terms: you don't poke a grizzly bear in the butt without a .44 magnum in hand. Even then, you're probably in for a fight.
Some people don't have a rage mode. Others don't have a funny bone. To craft the perfect "F U letter," you'll need to use your strengths -- don't try humor if you aren't funny, don't make threats if they sound like they're coming from Mary-Kate Olson.
Make Them (or The Client) Feel Stupid
If you have a bulletproof case, and if you feel a die troll letter is called for, don't send a half-baked, one-paragraph "leave me alone letter."
No, you want to tell them every way in which they've screwed the pooch (to borrow a military expression). Make it a long letter. Take to pieces any and all possible causes of action that they may have.
Talk about how idiotic the lawsuit is, and how insane their client is, and consider directing all the blame at that client. ("I'm sure your client didn't tell you ...") Otherwise, you risk insulting an imbecile who will press forward with the case no matter how frivolous his client's case is.
End With a Threat
Not a physical or illegal threat, mind you, but a legal ("I will own your client's soul...") threat. Opposing counsel and her client need to know that if they bring this idiotic claim, by the time you seek attorneys' fees, sanctions, and their own legal fees are accounted for, that client will be living in a homeless shelter.
Sit on It
You've evaluated your case. You've written a harshly worded, "what the **** are you thinking?" letter.
Don't send it. Sit on it for a day, give it a second read, and then, when emotions have cooled, ask yourself if the fire-and-brimstone technique is called for.
Reread Goldstein's Letter
Seriously, it's the perfect letter. Strong case? Definitely -- the porn star signed up to be thrown off a roof. The sarcasm and rage not only come off as authentic, but also make us want to buy the man a beer. And imagine reading that letter as opposing counsel -- not only do you feel stupid for threatening a lawsuit, but you probably wet yourself somewhere around the third paragraph.
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- Five More Ways to Irritate Opposing Counsel (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
- Pet Names for Clients and Opposing Counsel? Bad Idea (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
- 5 Tips for a Writing Flawless Demand Letter (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)