He’s grumpy. But he calls the shots. Not some smart-mouthed fellow from out of town.  And he certainly doesn’t cotton to your unfamiliarity with the rules, counselor.

This practice gives me a chance to work with some great translation providers.  I go back to them regularly because they not only provide quality work, but they’re also ethical in dealing with clients, and that means the world to me.  Not all providers are that way, but my people are rock solid.  As such, my people don’t mind when I say to a caller, “hey, you can keep your translation costs down by only serving what is required by venue rules.”  That matters to my clients (all lawyers & law firms) who need to serve abroad.

Earlier this fall, in Keeping Translation Costs Down, Part Three, I ranted a bit, because my clients often come to me with a laundry list of documents that are served here in the U.S. as a matter of course, but that don’t strictly have to be served, here or abroad.  Loudmouth that I am, it’s just not in my nature to shut up about it, so I’m going to ask, “do local rules really require that you serve Judge Haller’s Rules of Lawyerly Dress Code Applicable to Pro Hac Vice Attorneys?!”

Look, folks, if you’re not required to serve a document, don’t serve it.

Yes, yes, I understand that if you’re serving in Miami or Seattle it’s not a big deal to have the process server kill another tree.  But if your defendant is in Düsseldorf or Yokohama or Buenos Aires, you have to translate that thing.  The Hague Service Convention (or, more accurately, various countries’ declarations thereto) mandates translation in just about every country that didn’t once have the Union Jack flying over it.  Whether German or Japanese or Spanish, at $112 a page, that’s a bit silly when you can just serve it on opposing counsel after he appears.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(1) requires service of the following:

  • Summons
  • Complaint

END. OF. LIST.  Many state rules say likewise.

Understand, of course, that exhibits are part of the Complaint, but the Civil Cover Sheet, ADR packet, standing orders, Covid-19 orders, all the extra stuff that you might tack onto a domestic serve to cover your bases… is going to cost you unnecessarily.  So leave it out.*

Just serve what THOU SHALT SERVE under the rules and keep your translation bill to a minimum.


* Pay attention to the local rules, which may actually require you to serve all that other stuff.  Keep in mind, though, that the rule may say you have to serve a particular document, but it may not indicate when.