Lawyers Don’t Get Paid by the Word, but They Sometimes Act Like They Do

This falls more into the category of “effective lawyering” than it does collections, but this article is a good lesson about the importance of reading your court’s rules of procedure and persuasive writing.

In the article, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals comes close to dismissing a party’s appeal based only on the blatant non-compliance with the Court’s 14,000 word limit in briefs, but then notes that the appeal has no merit (so side-steps that issue). The brief apparently used 18,000 words in unpersuasively making its point.

But, the decision has a lesson: know your court’s rules of procedure, and follow those rules.

And, aside from that, lawyers need to understand that less is often more. There’s a tendency to cite every case, refute every argument, and rehash every point. In our 30 second soundbite world, that’s not how we–and I include Judges here–process information. We look for summary statements, bullet points, and clear, concise statements.

And don’t get me started on those lawyers who just stand up and start reading from their briefs.

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