From the “Don’t let this happen to you” department comes this real-life lesson of an attorney involved in a case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida who, without leave of court, filed a brief that exceeded the 25-page limit by four pages. The court, not amused, denied the attorney’s motion to exceed the page limit, struck the motion, and then very kindly gave the attorney a week to file a brief that conformed with the page limit.
Although the attorney had claimed that the issues involved in the case were so complex as to preclude him from writing an adequate brief in 25 pages, the court strongly disagreed, and backed up its disagreement by line editing part of the attorney’s brief — making it much shorter while not sacrificing any of the substantive legal content of the edited material!
Here is a link to the court’s order, complete with an embarrassing example in which the court edited an example of a verbose paragraph by the attorney from 183 words down to 46 words.
I tell this story not just to enjoy a little Schadenfreude, but to point out that all attorneys must learn to be our own best editors and to find the lurking redundancies and verbosities that can be cut from our documents.
Hat tip to the Legal Writing Prof Blog.