A common counterargument I hear from attorneys resistant to better typography is called What Judges Want. In Mad Libs format, it goes like this:
What goes in the blanks?
Or anything, really. Because What Judges Want is based on the same faulty reasoning as all broad-brushstroke arguments. Whether you’ve met ten judges or a thousand, it’s apparent that they’re as different from each other as attorneys are. Why try to generalize?
I don’t. Rather than debate What Judges Want, I encourage these attorneys to rely on evidence. Court rules are one example.
Court opinions are another. If it were true that judges are
This next example is not fictional. It shows recent improvements made by the Utah Supreme Court to the typography of its opinions.
Divider line made out of alphabetic characters.
Middle of page is disorganized and hard to follow.
Underlining for emphasis.
This opinion is an excellent summary of the previous chapters, showing what happens when you toss out obsolete typewriter habits and replace them with simple principles of good typography.
Similar to the Violet–Trixie résumé test in why does typography matter, I often show skeptical lawyers this pair of opinions. I ask: which one would you rather read? No one fails to pick this one.
Considering where they started, the Utah Supreme Court deserves credit for most improved. If they can do it, you can do it.
But who’s producing the best-designed court opinions in the country? Maybe it’s an obvious pick, but this court is almost infallible—
The United States Supreme Court, of course.
Generously large page margins. Unobtrusive header.
Century font for body text.
Justified text used with hyphenation.
Understated section markers, emphasized with white space rather than bold or italic.
True, the margins seen here are necessitated by the Supreme Court’s special
Practitioners should note that in the Supreme Court, Times New Roman is forbidden. So if you’re preparing your first petition, don’t wait till the night before to read Rule 33(b) and find a font in the
And who knows? The Supreme Court might still switch to one space. Greater precedents have been overturned. My amicus brief is ready.