Yes! Following the rules, all of them, matters – federal and local, substantive and procedural, big and small. Regular readers will not be surprised by my answer. I have repeatedly reminded people, as do the Northern District judges (click here for examples of both), to comply with Local Rule 56.1.
But I also think it matters for more “minor” rules, such as the newly revised Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 & 26, which now require that counsel include an e-mail address along with a physical address and phone number (click here for my previous post on the December 1, 2007 Fed. R. Civ. P. amendments.)
My experience since December 1 is that most attorneys are not following the e-mail address requirement. It is unlikely that courts will sanction counsel for failure to provide an e-mail address, but to me, and I presume to at least some judges and clerks, it signals sloppy lawyering. It says that counsel is not staying current with changes in the profession. And it makes me wonder what else counsel is not current with. Have they explored the significant codification of electronic discovery rules from December 1, 2006? At least it is unprofessional, and at most it is an indication of a lack of knowledge of the current state of the law — a significant advantage to those of us that keep current.
Am I overreacting because these are "minor" rules that likely are not sanctionable? Comment to this post or send me an e-mail with your thoughts. I will post about whatever feedback I receive (without names, of course).