When I was at law school, I was the editor of the student magazine there and I broke the story about a scandal at one of the law journals. The editor in chief was implicated and she gave me a letter from her lawyer, asking for all my sources, who I talked to, and everything but my name, rank, and serial number. This was the first lawsuit threat that I got and I was hyperventilating. Then I looked down on my desk and noticed that the work number for this editor in chief was the same phone number as her attorney and this attorney was in international law, not libel. I have been threatened with litigation over one of the payroll provider Third-party administrator articles I write annually (except the 11th annual edition this Spring). The point is that clients and non-clients can have a threatening lawyer to you all the time.
Occasionally, these letters are serious especially if you have serious liability exposure. Most of the time, it’s just used as a threat to get a better result than by doing nothing. When I got that letter in law school and I gave it to the Dean, he said I should settle immediately. I think when you get a letter from a lawyer, speak to a lawyer. They will certainly help you gauge the seriousness of the matter and what the response should be. I know attorneys are expensive (except me ), but I think the greatest mistake is thinking you can handle a legal threat on your own.
That lawyer letter is like playing poker. Most of the time it’s a bluff and sometimes it’s not, you need someone who can tell the risks and what the response should be. If you get a letter from a lawyer, you know where to find me.