Update to Typography for Lawyers Essay: When Ten Pages are Thirteen

My essay encouraging lawyers to adopt better typographical practices appeared today in The Advocate, the bimonthly publication of the Kentucky Justice Association

In it, I explain how making a few small changes to your letters, briefs, and presentations can make your words more beautiful and engaging on the page. I also explained that these changes may also help you fit more words on the page while staying within court-mandated rules governing type size, line length, and line spacing. 

One of the biggest changes comes from using true double spacing (set your line spacing to "Exactly" 24 points rather than Microsoft Word's default "Double Spacing" option (which is actually a bit taller than 24 points). 

Here, I've created a couple of documents that will show you the difference between the two approaches. I've created two separate documents so you can download them and compare side-by-side. Do that now.

Download the Appellant Brief sample
Download the Appellant Reply Brief sample

Here are some of the changes I made in the Reply Brief:

  • Used small caps for the section titles (Matthew Butterick's typeface, Equity, has beautiful small caps),
  • Removed ALL CAPS from the headings, opting instead for simple bold or italics,
  • Removed capital letters in headings
  • Used a table rather than a series of ........................... to denote a page number in the Statement of Points and Authorities (using a table also makes formatting way less of a hassle), 
  • Changed the typeface from Times New Roman to Equity (look at Equity's italic: beautiful)
  • Reduced the line spacing from Microsoft Word's default "double space" to true double spacing (set line spacing to "exactly" 24 points)

Here's the skinny: the Reply brief is more beautiful, it's easier to read, and therefore, more likely to be read. (Judges and their law clerks are looking for any reason—any reason—to stop reading. Even if that reason is the "blah" vibe that your brief is giving off. Sorry, it's true.) 

The Reply brief also fits more words onto the page. The "Argument" page in the Appellant Brief is 284 words long, including footnotes; the "Argument" page in the Reply Brief has 358 words. Reducing the line height to 24 points allowed me to fit 74 more words (26%) onto the first page of my brief. Multiply that by the ten pages allowed by the Court of Appeals for a Reply Brief, and I get 740 more words than an attorney using Microsoft's default double spacing. That's 3 extra pages of argument. That's a big advantage. 

If successful, our appeal will allow injured temporary workers to pursue lawsuits against temporary employers. Currently, these businesses enjoy both complete immunity and complete control over a temporary worker (whose workers' compensation benefits will be paid by their temporary employment agency). This encourages businesses to misuse and abuse temporary workers for the business's most dangerous work. A win would mean accountablity where there currently is none. That's a big deal. 

We all have cases that can yield big change if we win. I'm happy to have an additional three pages (when I need them) to explain to the Court why we should win.