Friday, August 22, 2014


In my legal career, I've had to veteran attorneys I've considered mentors. The first was the senior partner at my first job. I learned more from him about the nuts and bolts of practicing law and legal thinking than I would have ever admitted to myself when I was there. Funny how time and distance can help you realize things that you were too blind to see at the time.

My second mentor is my current managing attorney. Less skilled at the nuts and bolts - though I think that is a bit of a show on his part - one of the messages he has drilled in has been the importance of knowing your judge. It is much easier to get a ruling you want if you know how your judges tick, and what arguments that each particular judge is receptive to. Perhaps even more important than the substance of the argument is what forms of delivery they prefer.

On August 21, Above the Law had an article about a judge's exclusive use of digital documents. Briefs, motions, everything was done electronically. He had gone paperless on the bench.

My first thought was "wonderful, we've got another convert, even if he is using an iPad". My second thought was of my mentor in my ear asking, "now that you know this about the judge, what would you do differently if he was your judge?"

This is a question I haven't had to deal with yet, but I think it is just a matter of time before this makes its way to my little slice of Ohio. So, I took the question seriously: what would I do differently?

The first thing that comes to mind that I would want to reconsider is the formatting of my briefs and my choice of font. A font that is good for reading in print is not always good for reading on a laptop or tablet. A little extra space between the lines and unjustified alignment are probably better online than in print. A serif font is critical to reading in print, but a sans serif font has usually been the better choice for online consumption reading.

So, one of the real take aways from this post: if your judge is doing his reading on his tablet or computer, do you change your font and typography to match? No answers today, just a question.

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