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The lawyer letter

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 at 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.

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