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What Should You Do if You Receive a Scary Legal Letter?

What Should You Do if You Receive a Scary Legal Letter?

One surefire way to have your day ruined? Receiving a scary legal letter or email that threatens legal action against you. It may be a demand letter, a cease and desist, a breach of contract dispute — Eek! What do you do? 

First, take a deep breath. Second, don’t panic and take immediate action, like complying with what the letter says or making angry calls to lawyers. You have options — and you havetime to figure out what to do. We promise!

Here are a few steps you can take if you receive a legal letter. 

Disclaimer: The Contract Shop® is not a law firm and this is not to be considered legal advice. We recommend consulting a lawyer to figure out the right next step for you. 

Check that it’s credible

After you’ve relaxed a little bit, you can weigh your options and figure out your next move. Before you doanythingthe letter suggests, check that it’s legit first! 

Legit legal letters often have:

  • Official-looking signatures
  • A PDF copy of the letter attached to the email as a PDF
  • Their official letterhead at the top of the letter

Credible emails and legal letters will always ask you if you’re represented by a lawyer, or suggest that you should hire legal counsel before responding. Why? Attorneys can’t talk to you if you’re represented by a lawyer. If they do, that’s grounds for disbarment — meaning they lose their license and privilege to practice law.

Look up the attorney(s)

Next, look up the attorney or law firm that sent you the letter or email. A quick Google search will reveal any publications, news stories, or cases that they were involved in. 

Don’t stop at Google, though. Do a bit of extra digging and check your state’s bar association website. Every licensed lawyermustbe listed in your state bar association directory. It’s public record, too.

From there, you can browse around on the attorney’s own website, check out their user reviews on Google Maps or Yelp, read some of the news stories you came across previously…it’s up to you. The more information you can find, the more you can trust that they’re real, and so is the letter you received.

How to respond

Yes, legal letters can be scary, and your first instinct may be to ignore it. Unfortunately, the issue won’t suddenly disappear. The sender won’t just forget what happened, especially if they’ve hired a lawyer to communicate with you.

You can respond to acknowledge that you received the letterwithoutadmitting or denying anything. Use this helpful language as a guide for your response. (Note: This is not legal advice and The Contract Shop® is not a law firm.) 

Hi [name], 

We’ve received your message dated [date] in regards to [matter]. We kindly ask that you give us a reasonable amount of time to consider our legal options. 


[your name] 

This reply is straightforward, brief, and acknowledges you received their communication. A good rule of thumb is to cut out anywhere you find yourself making justifications, such as sentences that start with “Sorry…” or “I just…”

Look for a lawyer just in case

Our final tip? Start shopping around for lawyers in case this issue goes south. A lawyer can help you investigate what the letter is threatening or claiming that you did. They can also help you form a more in-depth and appropriate response to the letter.

If hiring a lawyer is not an option, try to find out what the other side is asking of you or saying about you. You can ask for more information or further clarification from the sender before taking the next step. 

Protect yourself from future legal letters

A legal letter often signals that a lawsuit is on the way. While that thought may seem terrifying, think of it as an attempt to resolve a disputebeforefiling legal action or even going to court. If you’ve received one, make sure it’s credible and think your options through carefully. Speaking to a lawyer may be your best bet at resolving the issue.

We can’t guarantee that you’llneverget a scary legal letter. But we can help you protect yourself and your biz from unhappy customers suing for breach of contract or former employees suing for wrongful termination. 

Use one of ourcontract templates for each new client or new employee you take on and feel confident that you’re legally protected! We have contract templates tailored to specific professions, from coaches to photographers to virtual assistants and mores.Browse our shop to find the perfect one for your biz.

1 Response

Sandra Bryant
Sandra Bryant

April 03, 2024

I appreciate reading these helpful hints.

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