How to write a great demand letter (for lawyers)

In this video, attorney Candice Blain discusses how to write a great demand letter. Thank you to for the music.

Transcript below.

Done with that?

Then read this: How to craft an auto accident demand letter



Who enjoys writing demand letters? Writing a demand letter is tough. And most lawyers will do everything they can to push back that moment when it’s time to sit down, put pen to paper, and write one.  

But if done right, the demand letter can be a lawyer’s most effective tool.

The key to mastering the power of the demand letter is in understanding what it is really meant to do. Yes, a demand letter is not entirely unlike a ransom note.

But unlike a ransom note, what you are threatening here (hopefully), is not murder, but business.

A demand letter is less a legal document, and more a business proposal. 

What this means is that the purpose of a demand letter is not to threaten to file a lawsuit.

Threatening to file lawsuit against an insurance company is a lot like threatening a plumber that you will call him. Lawsuits are the very stuff in which insurance companies deal.

So to write a great and compelling demand letter, you need to speak their language.

You need two things: A Compelling story. And a case.

You begin a demand letter with a compelling story.

Compelling to whom? Well, compelling to a jury. But as seen through the eyes of an adjuster.  What you trying to do is to give a preview of the story that will be told at trial. in writing a demand letter, you are fast-forwarding through time, all the way through discovery and litigation, to  the time of trial. You want to show the adjuster what the jury will be seeing and hearing. 

When this is done properly, what the reader will focus on will not be legal nuances, or case law, but how he now believes a jury will feel about what happened.

This is your story.

In addition to telling your story you need a case.

Not a legal one. A business one.

To make your case, you must identify a number, that is, a settlement figure you would now accept.

The effectiveness of your demand letter hinges on how well you create an incentive for the adjuster to agree to that number.

A demand letter is about incentives.The whole purpose of a demand letter is to show adjuster why a compromise, now — today, is the most sound business decision.

You do this by showing the adjuster why you will win at trial, and why it will end up costing more than it would to settle today.

In other words, the purpose of a demand letter is to illustrate why the cost of settling now is less than the cost of going all the way to trial. 

So, don’t place your final offer in or above the range you hope to achieve by winning at trial. Proposing that number is merely an invitation to meet in the courtroom.

Instead, in your demand letter, propose a deal. Explain why settling later — or not settling at all — will ultimately cost more than what you propose today.

In short, make them an offer they can’t refuse.

A great demand letter consists of two parts: a compelling story and a case. Tell your story as the jury will hear it. Then, pitch your offer: explain why what you are now proposing is the best possible outcome.

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