One Lawyer’s Discovery Pet Peeves

Lawyers are notoriously nuts about certain things, and we all have our pet peeves which drive us to the brink of insanity.  These are often, very, very trivial things.  For the most part, they are so minute and inconsequential that they have no bearing whatsoever on the substance of the litigation.  However, because we, as lawyers, are perfectionists, or at least like to think that we are, these little irksome things can drive us up the wall if we allow them to do so.

I write today not to urge caution, reasonableness, of diligence in the mitigation of such things. This post is reserved only for unreasonable and petty complaining about my legal pet peeves.

So, today, I share with you the two things in the practice that drive me absolutely bonkers.

First, when there is a singular individual suing a defendant in a lawsuit, you refer to that individual as the plaintiff, not plaintiffs.  For some reason or another, wherever I practice, wherever I go, I always seem to run into lawyers who refer to an individual, single plaintiff in the plural rather than the singular.  This must be a widespread phenomenon because I recall people making that error as far back as my law school days.  Surely, I’ve made the same mistake myself, but this is so commonplace that there must be something out there prompting this outrageous conduct.  (Don’t get me started on the use of an apostrophe after the “s” when we are referring to a single plaintiff using the possessive form).

But more vexing, and thankfully, less often encountered, is the manner in which we refer to requests for production and requests for admission.  How many discovery templates have we seen where we are being served with “request for production” or “request for admission?”  If there is more than one request, then you call the document “requests for production” or “requests for admission,” right? Were I far more cavalier in the practice of law, I would object under Rule 26 or whatever rule applies – even if that rule does not deal with discovery limitations – and say that if a party has titled their discovery document as a “request for production” or a “request for admission” then I will only be answering the first listed request since they did not use the plural in their caption.

I feel pretty good about my chances at a motion to compel hearing defending that response, actually.

Really, the only solution for these issues is legal education.  Therefore, I call upon all law schools to incorporate these paramount issues into their first year curriculum.

Well, or, at the very least, people should read this blog post and really contemplate this subject matter.

Comments

  1. stuart mauney says:

    When I started practicing in 1987, South Carolina had just converted from something called “code pleading”–which by my time they did not even teach in law school. Despite that fact, I would often be served with a “motion to produce.” I have no idea what that was, but it wasnt in my copy of the rules of civil procedure!

  2. If these are the things that are getting you worked up, you are having a good life, Jim!

    You should write a 5,000 word essay on people that use two spaces after a period.

  3. Reminds me of a pleading I received back in the early 90s when I was working for the government. As a new lawyer in the department one of my jobs was responding to pro se pleadings filed by prisoners in habeas corpus actions. My all time favorite was titled, “Request for Admissions, and/or, What About Justice?”. Classic.

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