Legal briefs and motions have page limits? Oh geez

Now why didn’t I think of this when I drafted a summary judgment motion in my own case? NoYouCantWriteABriefLikeThisToGetAroundTheWordLimit – Lowering the Bar

While I was working on that motion, I carefully avoided inquiring of my lawyer whether the motion (for a New York State Supreme Court case) had page limitations. Which it did. Like 25 pages. And my draft was…105. Pages.

Bless my lawyer because she cut it down to 25 pages, I still don’t know how. It was a bloody miracle and she did it all on a weekend. (This is only part of why I took her to a celebratory lunch last week at Eleven Madison Park.)

Nevertheless, this case, brought to our attention by the exemplary Kevin Underhill at Lowering the Bar, certainly resonates with me. Here’s Underhill’s introduction, to give you an idea of what’s going on out there re page and word limitations and how lawyers–not mine, obviously–try to get around them:

People sometimes ask where I find “all this stuff” as if there were a limited amount of such material. There is not. It is endless. The well is deep, my friends. Nay, do not seek the bottom, for it cannot be found.

Here is yet another small example.

Almost every court imposes a page or word limit on briefing, and frankly the limits are not that restrictive. For example, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure give you 14,000 words, which comes out to about 50 pages, depending. That’s a lot of pages, and it should be enough for any case. Some have claimed that at least in certain high-stakes cases, hundreds of pages may be required. I’ve never found that convincing. If people are forced to comply with the limit, they are generally able to do it, and what gets cut is stuff you didn’t need anyway. Sure, you may have to get creative. Here’s a guy who wanted 55 pages but got five: he filed it inĀ comic-book form, and good for him.

But there’s creativity and there’s creativity. Comic-book form is the good kind. Deleting all the spaces and then claiming it is one big “word” is the bad kind.

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