Updated on November 13, 2020
Can you file a complaint in a couple of days? In one day? Can it take a week or longer to file a complaint? In the litigation world, a “complaint” is the initial pleading a plaintiff files to initiate a lawsuit. Often times the time spent to draft a complaint is not always reflected in the length of the complaint. This is true because the art of drafting a complaint often involves time spent determining what to include and what not to include. In this post, we discuss issues that can affect the timing of filing a complaint and how long it can take to file a complaint.
As a preliminary matter, prior to filing a complaint, attorneys and clients need to work together to establish the operative set of facts and conduct any necessary due diligence to ensure they can avoid potential issues down the road. This process necessarily requires a client to gather all necessary supporting evidence and documents. As part of this process, the client usually also provides a narrative or interview, which can help identify potential witnesses and sources of additional information. Based on this information, an attorney may need to conduct his or her own independent legal research, review public records and interview potential third party witnesses. The due diligence process leading up to a complaint can take anywhere from a few days to weeks, depending on the number of documents, witnesses, and timeline involved. Although time consuming, this process is important to ensure that a plaintiff puts its best foot forward with the complaint. We think strategic time spent up front drafting and planning your claims can avoid even greater time spent down the line fighting over the allegations and legal theories. Of course, opposing counsel can always attack a complaint and it is common place for them to do so, regardless of how good the initial complaint may be.
After completing the due diligence process, the attorney usually begins to draft the complaint unless the particular claims require some type of pre-lawsuit notice or mediation. If a pre-lawsuit notice or mediation is required, this may delay the drafting of the complaint. If no pre-lawsuit notice or mediation is required, the attorney can immediately proceed with draft the complaint.
The time that it takes to actually draft the complaint will certainly vary depending on the complexity of the facts and legal issues. During the drafting process, the attorney will also conduct legal research to determine the appropriate causes of action, potential legal theories of recovery, and identify potential legal issues like statute of limitations. The attorney may also continue following up with the client for additional evidence to support the various legal theories.
After drafting the complaint, the attorney usually provides a draft to the client for their review. During this step, the attorney and client will work together to carefully review the facts and prepare revisions to the complaint as necessary. The timing of this step again depends on the complexity of the matter.
Finally, after the attorney and client are satisfied with the complaint, they will finally be ready to file. The actual process of filing the complaint does not take long. Nowadays, most courts require attorneys to electronically file a complaint. As a result, complaints can be submitted for filing 24/7 in many counties like Los Angeles. Once the complaint is submitted for filing, the Court usually returns a conformed copy of the complaint within a few days. At that point, the lawsuit has been filed and the plaintiff can then move to the next step of serving the defendants.
Schorr Law has experience with initiating and responding to all types of complaints involving real estate matters. To see if you qualify for a free 30-minute consultation regarding your matter, please contact us by phone, email, or send us a message through our contact form.