Day 1

10:00 AM: I’m emailed to Cockle, as scheduled.  Right now, I’m a near-final draft of a legal brief in Microsoft Word (though WordPerfect is also acceptable).  My text size, formatting, and margins don’t matter.  I don’t even have page numbers yet.  But over the next two days, I’ll be transformed into a booklet format brief and filed with the United States Supreme Court.

10:15 AM: I’ve just been assigned to my document analyst, Brian.  He checks my word count, reviews me for rule compliance, and makes note of any important preliminary questions to discuss with my author.  Document analysts occasionally find that attorneys overlook required sections of their legal brief, the omission of which would allow the Court to refuse to docket a filing like me.

10:35 AM: As all of my required parts are present, Brian sends me over to Cockle’s typesetting department.  Here, Shelley strips out my formatting, implements edits that Brian and my author have agreed on, and builds me up into the Court’s format.  She takes care to ensure that every word breaks correctly at the end of each line and sends me over to the proofreading department.

11:00 AM: Two proofreaders, Cindy and Daryll, read me aloud – word for word – to check for grammatical flaws, inconsistency in citation, and proper sentence structure.  If a citation takes one form in my table of authorities and another in the body of my brief, the inconsistency will be noted for discussion with my author.

3:00 PM: After proofreading, Shelley implements minor edits (the type of which can be corrected without my author’s assistance).

3:20 PM: Brian transfers the proofreaders’ notes onto a clean proof and paginates my tables of contents and authorities by hand to ensure that citations to “Id.” and other shortened entries are found.

4:30 PM-5:30 PM: I am emailed back to my author who will review the proofreaders’ notes and implement any new edits which arose over the course of the day.


Day 2

10:00 AM: My author calls Shari, a member of Cockle’s corrections staff, to discuss the edits.  After the required changes have been implemented, I’m ready to be printed!

12:00 PM-5:00 PM: In the printing department, Kevin prints at least 50 copies of me (40 for the Court, 3 for opposing counsel, and the remainder for my author).  I am then saddle stitched or perfect bound and cut three times (once each along the right, the top, and the bottom edges).  I’m packaged along with an affidavit of service and certificate of compliance.  Here, I’ll await the arrival of FedEx and UPS for my flight out of Omaha!

5:30 PM: FedEx and UPS arrive.  I’m considered “filed” the moment my packaging is scanned.  I’ll arrive at the Supreme Court and the service party’s address within three calendar days.  At the Court, I’ll be screened for Anthrax and sent to the docketing room to be reviewed for rule compliance (a breeze since Cockle has already assured that I’m ready).  Then I’m distributed to the Justices and their clerks so that the Court can review the merits of my excellent argument.

Cockle’s by the Numbers 

  • 5: SCOTUS legal briefs filed per day, on average
  • 12: SCOTUS legal briefs filed per day, on a busy day
  • 21: SCOTUS legal briefs filed on one day during the Affordable Care Act cases
  • 1,250: SCOTUS legal briefs filed during an average Term