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I think you're right, although I think it also helps to be aware that some people will dig in their heels rather than "lose face" by capitulating. Often the icy letter is best saved until after you have allowed the recipient the opportunity to comply with your wishes gracefully. But gosh darn it, when you do have justification to write the icy letter and it is strategically the right thing to do, it is awfully fun.


I'm not sure if I ever enjoyed writing letters of this type, although I've written a few, and have written plenty more very stern letters.

I find, however, after having done this now for a long time that a clear decisive letter is most likely to work. It's a human instinct to defend a position if you feel yourself under attack. For that reason, a person is, in my opinion, better off with the "this is the way it is" type of letter, as opposed to the "I'm going to hunt you down and shave your cats" type of letter.

The goal is what is desired. Sometimes a blunt aggressive letter is necessary, when you have the facts to back it up, however.

Carolyn Elefant

I try never to put in letters what I would be too afraid or embarrassed to say to someone's face. I don't think many lawyers follow this rule.

Also, I see the nasty letter as an absolute last resort, after other efforts, most importantly, verbal communications have failed. I think most lawyers are too afraid to call up an opponent and let them know when they're unhappy - so they use the letter to hide behind. After receiving a nasty letter, I'll always call the lawyer to discuss it and most often, I'll find that their tone and attititude is nothing like that expressed in the letter.


I love writing these letters, too. The best I was ever allowed to right was the first. On the second I threw in a paragraph I was pretty sure my boss would cut out, and I was right, although he did seem pretty amused. I became more sedate after that.


Due to the nature of the clients I represent, I rarely get to write these types of letters. I do receive them fairly regularly and enjoy that a lot. I especially like it when the angry letter overstates the strength of the sender's position. Then I get to send back a polite "bring it on" letter.

emma goldman

You'll appreciate, then, the situation in which a friend's family found themselves. The family was having severe problems with a general contractor and relevant subcontractors. The family's lawyer wrote a letter detailing the issues that needed to be addressed. The contractor made notations on a copy of that letter (and the notations were decidedly not helpful for the contractor's case)--and then the contractor or his lawyer (I forget which) sent a copy of that annotated letter to the family's lawyer. Needless to say, the family's lawyer was pleased by this turn of events, as it made his own job so much easier.


I did not realize how differently laypersons see us as lawyers compared to how we see ourselves.


Patrick, what do you mean? Say more.


Sorry for the delay - I have been in court this week and I have a brief due tomorrow but just for you, Schehrezade...

I am a litigator. I am also a pretty non-confrontational person. So I don't take demand letters or any other kind of letter personally. Even when they include nice little personal attacks. It's business. I try to take emotion out of my letters altogether, although if there is an emotion I try to convey, it's typically disappointment. Especially in construction cases.

Reading between the lines of the posts on here it seems like a few posters (a) have been sued, and/or (b) got a letter from a lawyer that triggered an emotional reaction.

I guess when you become a lawyer, all the mystique and awe of the law just kind of melts away and turns into words, word, words. Which might impress the Polonius-es out there, but your Polonius-es (Polonii?) don't really know when something's rotten in Denmark. My point is, no matter how well-written, or vicious, a legal letter is, when I get it, I read it and all I'm looking for is whether there's a meritorious claim or defense that's being asserted. Business.

BTW, I never write like this normally. I'm usually much more brief. But after reading your blog, I ALWAYS write these long replies. Then I delete them. I almost deleted this one.



Can anyone tell me where I might find a "fake" solicitors letter that could be sent to a bully at my school to scare her and get her to stop.


I absolutely adore writing "nasty-grams". A good nasty letter is a pleasure to write and is an effective tool that helps the client where other business communications fail.

I do detest the 'other' type of nasty letter, though--the kind with personal attacks or prevarications. I never write them and when I receive one I feel the need to set the record straight, but I absolutely hate having to spend time and money to correct the stupidity/unprofessionalism of the situation.


On writing mean letters: It's not wrong to do it nor is it wrong to enjoy it, provided one is justified. I recently discovered that my ex-husband's questionable live-in had said some highly inappropriate things to my 10 year old son. I wrote a letter that detailed for her exactly where the rabbit ate the cabbage, as well as how things would be progressing from that day forward as I have 100% custody and the visits to the uninvolved father were arranged solely because I am a kind and benevolent ex. According to your description of the perfect "good" bad letter, I did pretty well, save for the 3part where I called her an onionhead who is shallow and possessing the judgement skills of a monkey. So thanks! Your writing is so well done in ths entry, that I am tempted to cut and paste parts of it to my own blog and take credit. Of course, you being a lawyer and all, I won't...because mean letters SCARE ME! Thanks for the opportnity to blurt. ~Randi

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