WHAT NOT TO WRITE 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

I am not a tv watcher but I am vaguely aware of a TV program where these two very opinionated fashion types show up in your closet and tell you WHAT NOT TO WEAR. The opinionated fashion types point out your closet flaws, mistakes and try to help you find your new best self.

Essentially, that is my job when reviewing a non-compete or advising behind the scenes on a job transition.

Employee calls – says “hey, look at this agreement or this cease and desist letter, and then look at my response and tell me if I should send it?”

Ok. I open the draft email and see the following:


to: boss
from: ex-employee

dear boss:

i got that snotty letter from your incompetent jv attorney. Did she take the bar last week? Anyway, go ahead and sue me. My lawyer, much taller, stronger, smarter and generally better than yours, and he says the contract is garbage and should only be used as a coaster or to wipe his,… well, you get my point.

So sue me. I really don’t care. In fact, I would like to bring up the time you told me you cheated on your taxes, your wife, and told your kid he was dumb all in the same day. Or maybe, I can be asked on the stand whether or not I think you know how to run a business. Don’t forget genius, the clients all went with me because you spent your days at the Gold & Silver Club rather than making sales calls.

So, before you try to claim I am in breach of my contract – you should know, that I’ve been told, no Virginia judge will ever uphold that contract so you are wasting your time and money by threatening a lawsuit.

see you in court, sucker!

I love these letters. I love them because they are written from such a pure place, one of utter anger and revenge. But, they never turn out well. They always always always lead to unnecessary attorneys fees, litigation costs and well frankly, make the employee look like the jerk.

What I would rather see is the following:

dear boss:

I got your letter. I am so very sorry. Please know I so loved working for you and am so sorry you feel I am in breach. Don’t worry. out of respect for you, and your family, I would never compete. And I am sorry you felt you had to hire a mean old attorney. Please, feel free to call me directly and we can work this out like old friends. Anyway – so sorry. Give Carol my best.

Why do I like the later email, over the former one? With all that sappy suck-upiness?

More this week… and I will explain.

About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.

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