At the start of the new year, many of us are spending time looking back at where we have come from and forward to where we want to go. As part of that process, many are making resolutions to make 2015 better than ever. In that spirit, over the next several weeks, I am reposting a popular series of practice tips for the N.D. Illinois (with a focus upon IP litigation of course) that I ran a few years ago, with slight modifications for 2015.

The tips are not in a particular order of import. Why twenty-five?  I found that beyond twenty five, the tips became focused upon minutia.  The tips are gleaned from my practice in the Northern District, my time as a law clerk for the Hon. Gordon J. Quist in the Western District of Michigan, and my reading of all of the Northern District of Illinois intellectual property opinions over the last eight years.  As you read them, let me know if you come up with others.  I will be glad to include them as I go along.  Here are the first five:

  1. Draft complaints to meet both the Local Rules and the Judge’s requirements. There are pleading requirements in the Local Rules that are pretty standard, but do not make the mistake of failing to review them because they may not be the same as courts you are more familiar with.  And do not stop at reading the Local Rules, check out requirements of specific judges before deciding.  Click here for some examples of opinions to consider.
  2. Repeat plaintiffs’ allegations in your answers.  Local Rules require that you repeat the complaint paragraphs in your answer.  Most judges will not return your answer for failing to do so, but some will.  And even if they do not, you render your answer far less useful a tool for the judge and her chambers.
  3. Deliver courtesy copies.  The Local Rules require courtesy copies be delivered within one business day, and some judges’ standing orders require same day delivery.  Ina few cases counsel may be fined for not providing same day courtesy copies.  Opinions chastising counsel for failing to provide courtesy copies are surprisingly frequent.  But even if your judge does not penalize you for failing to meet the courtesy copy requirements (and some will), if your motion or response is on a tight schedule you run the risk of not being fully heard.  For example, if you are filing a response brief the day before a motion is to be heard and you bring your courtesy copies with you to the hearing you have only the slimmest chance that your brief is being read and digested before the hearing. 
  4. Separate service is not required when all parties are on ECF.  This may not be mission critical, but you need not separately serve parties with a filing when all are on the ECF system. 
  5. Signature blocks require both email and a fax number.  Many litigators still do not add email or fax numbers to signature blocks.  I have not seen anyone sanctioned or warned for this omission yet, but you do not want to be the first.