Tips for Attorneys

My job, which is awesome, does not really require me to do that much work. But one thing it does require is that I prepare the civil docket each week. That means that I get a list of all the motions that have been noticed for hearing in any given week, I find the file for the case and the motion in the file, and then I read the motion and prepare a case summary for the judge. Now this is not going to be a blog complaining about how terribly boring this task is. It’s not really that boring. It’s actually kinda interesting.

What this post is going to be about is all the unbelievable things attorneys do. Because I read at least 25 motions and supporting memoranda a week, I can guess that I get a pretty good sampling of how attorneys practice their craft. For the most part, the motions are well prepared and the attorneys are very professional. BUT (because there’s always a but) the ones that aren’t really aren’t. So here’s a list of things attorneys probably should do:

1. Proof-read. I know that this seems like common sense. If you’re sending something to court, you proof-read it. Apparently, a large number of attorneys do not see the need to do this. And I’m not talking about something as benign as using the word “were” for “where” or “we’re.” No what we’re dealing with here is a cut-copy-paste job. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the cut-copy-paste maneuver becomes a copy-paste job and the 3 pages copied are left in the document only to be read 5 pages later than the 3 pasted pages leaving the poor law clerk to figure out exactly where in the argument those 3 pages should actually be read.

2. Run Spell Check. Oh and while you’re at it, how about grammar check too? One word sums up why you should do this: redickulous. That was actually in a motion. True story.

3. Don’t file a ridiculous (yes that’s the correct spelling of the word redickulous) number of exhibits with your motion. Chances are if the motion and supporting memo of law is 5 pages long and the exhibits following it are 59 pages long, I’m not going to thoroughly peruse the exhibits. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your exhibit numbering is higher than 10, your exhibit lettering is higher than K, or your exhibits are several full length depositions, edit them. I don’t need to see the part of the deposition where someone gave their address. I only need to see the part where they admit liability. Thanks.

4. File a response. Preferably not at 4:35 the day before the motion is going to be heard.

5. Don’t bring your response to motion hour and expect it to be considered at motion hour. In case, you hadn’t noticed the Judge is busy. And so am I. No one is going to read your response before the motion is called.

6. Don’t be rude to the law clerk. I will remember your name, your firm, and your cases. And when you actually need help, I’ll be less worried about giving it to you.

7. Show Up. If it’s your motion, show up to argue it. Do you really expect it to be sustained if you’re not there to support it?

If you’ve done these things, don’t worry. It’s very common. And it doesn’t affect the outcome of your motions (except maybe not filing a response to the motion). But it does really really really really annoy me. Especially the proof-reading thing. I mean, seriously, are you so busy you couldn’t even ask your secretary/paralegal/law clerk/spouse/janitor to look over it for you?

And that’s my rant for the day… enjoy.

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