February 25, 2015

Appellate Wordsmiths Target Proposed Word-Length Cuts

By Marcia Coyle

February 19, 2015 LegalTimesNothing energizes an appellate brief writer like a proposal to shorten the length of appellate briefs.

Not surprisingly, a federal rule proposal to reduce the word limit for main appellate briefs prepared on a computer from 14,000 words to 12,500 words has triggered a wealth of opinions—mostly negative—from former solicitors general of the United States and the present officeholder, from bar associations and advocacy organizations, and from judges and practitioners.

Reducing the word count will lead to more motions for oversized briefs, some observers predict, and appellate courts, one commenter said, are generally "parsimonious" in granting such requests.

Two law professors offered early findings of an empirical study of appellate advocacy that looks at whether there is any association between appellate success in civil appeals and factors such as brief length.

Read more in LegalTimes.