From time to time, I receive requests to write a “lawyer letter.” What is a “lawyer letter”- and why do I have to refuse to write one? Let me explain:

Many people contact us and say that they “know” that their legal issue could be resolved, “if I just had a lawyer write a letter to the other side.” They say that they don’t want to get involved with a, “whole lawsuit or anything, all I need is a lawyer letter.” They say that they know, “the other side will just roll over or give up if they get a threatening letter from a lawyer.” They say, “just write a simple letter for me” and all will be resolved.

My office CANNOT write “lawyer letters” UNLESS we have been retained to represent the client for the ENTIRE legal matter.

Here’s the problem. Actually, it’s two BIG problems.

We need all of the details

First, in order to write a proper “lawyer letter,” the lawyer must know ALL the relevant information. This means the lawyer MUST:

  • Meet with the client and learn the entire story.
  • Review whatever documents are relevant.
  • Research the applicable law.

Unfortunately, this all takes time. For a lawyer, our time and expertise are the only commodity we sell so we must get paid for the time we spend investigating your case. To write a letter without proper investigation is unprofessional and unethical.

Life isn’t a card game

What happens if the “lawyer letter” doesn’t work? What if the other side receives the “lawyer letter,” calls your bluff and just pitches it in the garbage? What do you do then?

Well, if you are a competent, professional lawyer who has been retained to handle the entire legal matter, you promptly file a legal action or lawsuit. In other words, if your bluff is called you have to be prepared to fight. In my office, we say: “If we are in for an inch, we are in for a mile.” That means once we have been retained to handle a case, we are going to see it through to the end whether it is an easy case or a difficult case.

Why is that our philosophy? Simple. There is nothing worse in our business than getting a reputation that you are nothing more than a giant bluffer. Once you have this reputation, it undermines every case you handle for every client you represent.

If you retain us, our reputation works for you

Because Ziff Law Firm attorneys practice in an area where we constantly work with the same lawyers and same insurance company adjusters, over and over again, our reputation means EVERYTHING! If we develop a reputation that we will fight to the brutal end for every client, every time, then our opposition will be very
reluctant to try to call our bluff. Instead, they will be more likely to work with us toward a fair resolution of our clients’ cases.

I know this is a long-winded explanation for why we do NOT write “lawyer letters” but I wanted readers to know where we are coming from.

To truly help you resolve a legal matter – be it a personal injury, medical malpractice, bankruptcy or foreclosure, workers’ compensation case – we have to be retained as your representation in the matter. Once you provide additional details regarding the nature of your dispute, we will be in a position to let you know how we think you should proceed.

It may turn out that the first step of our representation might be the “lawyer letter,” but it won’t be an empty bluff. If that letter doesn’t work as hoped, we will be able to help you pursue your other legal options.

Thanks for reading,

James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529