Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good People to Know: In the Clerk's Office

In keeping with my Good People to Know series, tonight's post is about how truly wonderful some people in the clerk's office can be.

For any of you who are true newcomers to the practical world of law, the clerk's office is where you file court documents. But they do so much more than stamp documents. They are the lifeline of the court system. Many of the men and women working in my local court clerk's office have been working in the legal system since before I was born.

When local court rules change in any way, like when the fee schedules change or a judge begins requiring specific language filings, the clerk's office knows exactly what is going on. A year ago I attended a seminar regarding e-filing procedures. It came with a large binder full of wonderful information about local procedure, filing fees, and judge-specific directions. Some judges prefer proposed orders be attached to motions while others prefer they are filed separately, for instance. While the official association to sponsor the event was BCALP (Baldwin County Assoc. of Legal Professionals), I can assure you that most of the members who were involved in the seminar worked in the clerk's office.

On a daily basis, these ladies are life savers. I forgot a civil cover sheet for an initial complaint filing this past week. As soon as I realized my mistake, I turned to go. But the lady behind the counter, let's call her "L.," said, "Wait, we have a cover sheet here you can fill out."

I have learned a lot from the clerk's office over the past two years. For instance, while heavy bond paper is pretty, and the fact that your office can afford to buy it may be impressive to clients, the clerk's office would prefer that any paper filings be done with simple white paper. It scans better. When I related this matter to the Boss, his face showed slight indignation as he said, "But they don't understand that the presentation is important. Sometimes you have to use the nice paper." He's right, of course. Still, I've noticed lately that when I bring him a draft to review, if he finds it to be satisfactory, he will go ahead and sign the white regular paper rather than return it to me for printing on bond paper.

Rules and procedure are very important to the smooth function of the clerk's office. Every document has its place, every file has its number. That is why it is so important to get to know these people. If you have one good contact there, he or she will guide you through almost any procedural steps you may have forgotten or possibly never knew. Whether you are new, experienced, you need a good contact at the clerk's office. Of course, if you are experienced in the legal world, you already knew this, didn't you?

1 comment:

  1. Melissa, My friend in Ohio is a township clerk. She's a paralegal and worked for years in the legal department of a large corporation. Reading this post makes me appreciate how important her job really is. I'm going to pass this along to her and a few other paralegal contacts I have on LinkedIn. Thanks for the insightful information.
    Ginger B. Collins