By Jedidiah McKeehan

On one of my very first days working in the legal world I remember seeing a paralegal prepare a new lawsuit to be filed at the Court. Out of curiosity I picked it up and started flipping through it and I asked her, “why do you have three copies?”

That paralegal, in the nicest way possible, kindly explained to me what all lawyer should know on Day 1: You prepare 3 copies because one copy stays with the Court, one copy gets stamped and returned to you for your records, and the third copy goes out to be served upon the Defendant. 1+1+1 = 3.

Obviously if there is more than one Defendant than you will need to take additional copies so each Defendant receives a copy of the lawsuit.

Not only does this apply for the initial filing of the lawsuit, but also for every subsequent document that is filed with the Court.

You may wonder why you need to file a copy of the lawsuit for yourself. When you file a document with the Court, the Court has an official stamp that they put on the top right corner of the first page of each document filed.

When you have a “file stamped” copy in your possession, you can quickly reference when a document was filed, and if, in fact, a document was filed simply be checking to see whether the document was stamped and the date on which it was stamped.

So how many copies of a document do you need to file with the Court? The minimum number is always going to be three, and is often many more depending on the number of parties involved in a case.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.