Saving Paper

A couple of recent experiences have prompted me to think about the number of wasted pages that attorneys generated. And I am not talking about poorly drafted arguments. I am talking about exhibits.

I am involved in an appeal in an insurance coverage case. The issue is discrete and is strictly a legal issue. There are no real facts at issue. In the case, the Complaint was 14 pages long. A similarly sized amended complaint was also filed, along with a counterclaim from another party. With answers to each complaint and counterclaim along with the motions for summary judgment and responses, there is, in total, maybe 300 pages of pleadings filed in the case.

The common law record on appeal, however, is 2,841 pages long. What is the rest of the record comprised of? For the most part, copies of insurance policies. I know, this is an insurance coverage case. The applicable policies are important. In this case, there were a lot of them because there were multiple companies and multiple policies involved.

However, the reality is that the provisions relating to the lawsuit comprised less than 10 pages from each of the policies. Notwithstanding this, the attorneys for the insurance companies attached the complete policies for every policy to both the applicable complaint (or counterclaim) and the motion for summary judgment.

This is something I see all of the time. I understand the desire to attach the complete policy to the complaint. However, is it really necessary to attach hundreds of irrelevant pages as an exhibit to a motion for summary judgment? In this case, those extra irrelevant pages amounted to, literally, thousands of pages. And that was just in the record on appeal. In the case before the trial court, those thousands of pages were served on three other parties.

In a less extreme, but still wasteful example, I was recently served with a motion to dismiss a complaint I had filed. The defendant’s attorney had attached a copy of the complaint to the motion. Why? Sure, give the judge a copy of the complaint when you provide him with courtesy copies of the moition. However, I can think of no reason to actually attach it as an exhibit to the motion to dismiss. It’s not like the complaint is information outside of the record. It’s what got the court file started in the first place. This seems to be a common practice in Illinois. Does this happen in other jurisdictions as well?

Anyway, what I am saying is think about the paper you are wasting. I don’t want to scan it, store it, or mail it, if it is irrelevant or unneeded. Certainly, there are exhibits that you need to attached to your pleadings. Further, there is no question but that in some cases you will have to attach an entire contract. However, if you exhibit is hundreds of pages long, and you are looking only at a couple of pages, think about paring down that exhibit.

The common law record on appeal contains 2,841 stamped pages. In reviewing the record, however, I noticed several unstamped pages that were missed because the pages were stuck together. As a result, the waste is even greater than it initially appeared to be.