Defining terms of art
Plagiarism: An issue for every lawyer

Conserving the canvas: Increasing legibility while decreasing tree mortality

If you have some influence in creating or amending court rules governing the form of pleadings and briefs, this post is for you.

In the process of churning out vast quantities of paper, lawyers really do kill a lot of trees. Unfortunately, in complying with some court rules governing the form of our filings, we kill more trees than necessary. As Prof. Ruth Anne Robbins explains, a few simple rule changes would make a big difference. For instance:

  • Many courts require pleadings or briefs to be printed on one side of the paper. Allowing two-sided printing would result in nearly 50% less paper filed.
  • Many courts require all type to be double-spaced, except for block quotations and footnotes. Allowing 1.5-line spacing would shorten most papers filed by around 25%.
Many other changes suggested by Prof. Robbins would not only save trees, but also increase legibility. For the particulars, read her paper, Conserving the Canvas (also available on SSRN).


Ruth Anne Robbins

The article (in edited/polished form) will appear in the next JALWD. I know that it needs some clean-up.

Auden L. Grumet, Esq.

COMPLETELY AGREE!!! I've been advocating precisely these measures for years (and I always serve two-sided copies of large briefs on opposing counsel - they can't really complain:).

Auden L. Grumet, Esq.
Atlanta, GA

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