PHOENIX, ARIZONA. This morning at the DRI Appellate Advocacy Seminar, we heard from Judge David Ebel of the 10th Circuit. He told us that, by his calculation, each judge in his court must read 1,000 pages of legal written material every day. Think about that. One thousand pages. Every single day.
Now imagine that your brief is buried about two-thirds of the way down one of those 1,000-page piles. What can you do to grab the judge's attention?
Judge Ebel gave us many tips for making our briefs attention getters. But one tip stands out: Keep it short. The longer a brief is, the greater the judge's temptation to skim it rather than study it. And the judge who skims your brief may miss its most important point. But when you bring your brief in well under the page or word limit, "the judge will know that [you] made a diligent effort to use only the required number of words to express the appropriate arguments once. Each page and each word will be read carefully because the judge has the luxury of allocating more time per word to a shorter brief. Your points will get more specific attention."