When Lawyers' Work Product Goes Viral

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Thanks to websites like Reddit and Buzzfeed, legal writings are increasingly going viral. So when lawyers write a demand letter or legal brief, they must consider not only how the recipient will perceive the document, but also how the public may respond if it ends up online.

Most recently, a New Jersey lawyer made headlines for his response to a cease and desist letter sent to his client. The initial demand letter concerns a website operated by Jake Freivald. According to a lawyer representing the New Jersey township of West Orange, Freivald's website, westorange.info, is "is unauthorized and is likely to cause confusion." The lawyer demands that Freivald cease using the domain name and "anything else confusingly similar thereto."

Freivald's attorney suggests in his response, heralded by Buzzfeed as the "best response to a cease and desist letter ever," that the letter must have been sent in jest. He also writes:

"Not that we didn't get the joke ... but since Mr. Freivald has not previously encountered a humorous lawyer, he actually thought your letter may have been a serious effort by the Township to protect its legitimate interests. Rest assured, I've at least convinced him that it was certainly not some impulsive, ham-fisted attempt to bully a local resident solely because of his well-known political views. After all, as lawyers you and I both know that would be flagrantly unconstitutional and would also, in the words of my 4-year-old son, make you a big meanie."

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