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The Threat of an Attorney Demand Letter

Don’t panic. One of the great things about being an attorney is that for those inexperienced with them, people listen to your correspondence. For those in the business, this wears off pretty quickly. For some, the scariest thing sometimes is to get a demand letter from an attorney.

First thing to do – do not panic. The most valuable way to assess this letter is to do so without emotion as this correspondence is designed to intimidate, anger, and set forth a position that you will probably not like. Before overreacting, consider some of these factors.

  • If the facts are “all wrong,” realize that the attorney sent the demand usually with facts only from a single perspective of her client.
  • The common purpose of a demand letter is to settle the matter before litigation–try to look at it in the same fashion.
  • The settlement offer, if any, is structured so that the sending party leaves herself a bargaining position, so as to not appear weak.
  • Take legal theories argued in a demand letter with careful consideration, but understand that the attorney is free to allege all kinds of legal theories without much scrutiny within a mere letter.

Depending on the severity of the allegation(s) you’ll likely need to engage counsel to respond to any such demand letter, but if you have a working understanding that these letters, you are more likely to approach the matter in a better mindset.