Thursday, September 27, 2007

At the Clerk's Office: Yet another reason why I never seem to get anything done

Besides blogging, that is.

I actually did finish a Complaint yesterday. I finished it on the very day I told the client it would be filed, too.

(She'll be so surprised.)

This is the glamorous life of the solo practitioner: I figured out what the Complaint would say. That's the legal work.

Then I typed the Complaint. (OK, I do both of these at the same time. Word processing is a wonderful thing.)

Then I assembled the Complaint and the exhibits and photocopied the whole pleading.

The Complaint was too big to staple. (No, it wasn't my pleading, thank you very much. The exhibits were voluminous.) So I two-hole-punched every page and used fasteners.

I stamped the copies with my handy-dandy copy stamp. This sometimes -- but not always -- prevents the clerk from asking, when I present the documents for filing, which one is the original. It's the one that isn't stamped 'copy' I say.

I prepared my Summons and my 'cover sheet' and pulled a couple of checks out of the checkbook, one for the Clerk and one for the Sheriff. And now I was ready to march over to court.

Mind you, the clerical stuff isn't billable. But it still must be done. And my desk is covered with this file -- cases I looked at to formulate my Complaint -- the investigator's report -- the pleadings in the underlying case -- and, scattered amidst all these are the portions of the six other matters that I had to work on because clients called -- or because these are already past due. Oh, there's a few of those.

But finally I was ready to head off to the Clerk's Office.

The line was long, as usual. Every department in Cook County had to cut personnel in order to make the budget balance this year. I assume that's way there's seldom more than one filing station open whenever I get there. No matter when I get there.

After awhile, though, a woman returned from a late lunch or a mid-afternoon break and opened a second window. Now the line began to move a bit faster.

I reached her station, presented my papers, began filling in my check, and then there was this ear-splitting noise.

Fire drill. Everyone must leave at once. We were herded to a central hallway, where the Clerk's personnel have lockers, and into a stairwell.

Everyone was very polite at the outset. "You can tell it's a drill," said one man to a female acquaintance. "Why is that?" she asked. "Because if this was for real, I'd have run you over already," he said. "Not a chance," she said back, "I'd be long out of here." They both laughed.

The woman going down the stairs in front of me was wearing high-heeled boots. Either these were not designed for descending stairs or she'd had little practice doing so while wearing footwear of this kind. A large gap opened up in front of her -- and increasingly impatient people pressed in behind me.

Eventually, we all made it to the 7th floor hallway.

The 7th floor of the Daley Center is a transfer point. Almost all the banks of elevators stop there and, while we were crowded into the hallway, some people came from other floors and exited the elevators... and ran smack dab into the fire drill. They had to listen to the fireman's lecture with the rest of us. Most of these were lawyers, coming from a courtroom, going to file papers or looking to transfer to a different bank of elevators to get to a different courtroom. None of them were pleased.

The fireman, for his part, was pretty funny. He had a serious message, but delivered it glibly. I have to think that would help people to remember, should there ever be a real emergency.

Finally, we were allowed to return to where we began. I finished the filing transaction and went right back to the 7th floor to place my Summons with the Sheriff for service.

This is a two-step process. Before one can pay the fee, one must first present the papers to a clerk at one end of the counter who determines the price the Sheriff will charge to attempt service at a particular address. I made it to the front of this line and got my Summons priced. I was just about to step into the second line for payment when there was this ear-splitting noise.

Fire drill. Everyone must leave at once.

I was almost afraid to get back in line after that.

8 comments:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

wow curmie! a two-fer!!! good for you... at what point does it become cost efficient to hire someone to do that stuff so you can get to the rest of the cases? i know this is hard. but at some point?

smiles, bee
tyvc

Ralph said...

Because of the wheelchair, I am hesitant to go into a high-rise due to things like fire drills, etc. Guess that I can't have a mid-life crisis and go to law school and practice in the Windy City because I could end up in a fire drill...

Shelby said...

ever heard that Daniel Powter song, "So you had a bad day..."

I think you should sing it..

I cringed when I read this.. ouch.

sari said...

This has nothing to do with your post, but today I got a hit on my blog from someone looking for "Chrissy Popadics haircut".

You know, of course, that is because you talked about her on my blog, right? ha ha

landgirl said...

Did you finally get it done? Why did you get a lecture on the 7th floor? And ditto Empress Bee--cost effective to hire someone to help with paperwork?

British people are notoroius for their queues--not the long pigtails of the Chinese in those period martial arts pieces, but a line with as much regularity as the rows on a pigtail. I have never been in a fire drill over here but I wonder what it would be like?

Scots are very polite so someone might actually just pick up a slower moving person--especially a child or a woman and carry them along, all in perfect order. I once nearly went hungry at a buffet because I was so afraid of looking like an American and not properly queuing. I mentioned this to a person next to me and she said, I know what you mean, I am German and I am worried about looking too aggressive." We both then smiled at each other and tucked into the buffet. Nothing is worse than hunger.

The Curmudgeon said...

Sharon -- what a great story. And I got the lecture again because it wasn't intended for me... it was intended for everyone who was on that floor at the time the alarm sounded... it was just my 'luck' to have gone from one target to the next....

Bee & Sharon -- Right now, I'm busy -- and, moreover, busy with work that should result in the payment of hourly fees (nothing is ever certain, you know, until the check clears) -- but it's nearly October and this is the first time all year.

Someday -- hopefully -- I'll be able to add on staff -- but (and I think Bee will back me up on this) employees have a nasty habit of expecting to be paid every payday whether business is good... or bad.

Sari -- Boise State was on TV last night. I'm sure that had something to do with it.

Shelby -- haven't heard the song. I'll have to listen for it.

Ralph -- they had some sort of collapsible chair hung up on the stairwell wall, apparently for wheelchair users. It didn't look like a great option to me either.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

funny thing curmy, when i started at the law firm i worked at twice i MADE the payroll for him. but i was always taken care of and eventually it really paid off. he is a lifelong friend now. it was just a slow start in the business.

smiles, bee
tyvc

Patti said...

Yikes! two fire drills - not a great day.

Gotta love a glib firefighter, though.

I'm wondering how they expect a wheelchair user to get into such a contraption.