The pleadings means the documents that start a lawsuit. They include the complaint, answer, and reply. The complaint is filed and served with a summons on the defendants. The defendants must then serve a written answer to respond to the complaint. The answer may contain affirmative defenses and counterclaims against the plaintiff. If there are counterclaims asserted, the plaintiff must then serve and file a written reply to the counterclaims. Drafting the pleadings should not be taken lightly. A litigation attorney needs to know the elements of each claim in defense and must make sure that the allegations sufficiently pleaded those elements. If a claim or defense is not stated properly, the pleading could be dismissed later on a motion. Claims for fraud must be pleaded with specificity in order to avoid dismissal.