Should You File Your Own Pleadings?

I have really enjoying this blog, Solo in Minneapolis, even if it is anonymous. In some ways, it reminds me of Peter Olson’s similarly titled, Solo in Chicago in that both authors are conscientious, work-a-day solos (I mean this in the most complimentary way) who generously share solid practical advice about their journey to building a law firm. Last week, Solo in Minneapolis recommends that solo lawyers should file their own pleadings so that they can get to know court staff.

Initially, I flinched when I read this advice. Between e-filing and messenger services, up until last February when a blizzard forced me to trek DC Circuit to meet a statutory filing deadline, it had been at least five years – maybe more – since I physically made a filing myself. And even back in the day when I filed my papers myself because I had no choice, I chafed; figuring that filing papers was a waste of my time as a lawyer and a matter better outsourced to others.

But Solo in Minneapolis makes me reconsider. Because when I spent time at the court, I developed collegial relationship with the clerks at the DC Circuit (Superior Court was another matter entirely – they were way too surly!) who personally shepherded my motion to change a tight deadline that came up the day before my due date for my second daughter. In addition, if you’re a solo working out of the house or in an isolated office, trips to the clerks office can break up the day and provide needed human contact and even some levity (something I was reminded of when I was at the court last February and witnessed, first hand the infamous $65 million pants suit judge filing one of his final appeals).

Today for me, trips to the court clerks’ office (along with trips to the law library) are a luxury. My schedule is simply too busy and my office not sufficiently convenient — to enable me to justify in-personal filings. As I’ve written before, as our practices evolve, so too do the ways that we attract clients and build relationships with colleagues. Yet just because many of us pass through the salad days doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy them vicariously through the next generation of solos.