Mark Twain famously apologized for writing a long letter because he “didn’t have time” to write a short one. In other words, Twain’s letter suffered from a lack of editing. As Twain’s quip suggests, editing does require planning and can sometimes be time-consuming, but it is nonetheless a critical step to ensure that a writer’s message is both clear and concise.
While clerking on one of the busiest appellate courts in the country, I saw firsthand the importance of taking the time to carefully edit briefs. In short, editing can be the difference between a brief that gets read and one that gets skimmed. Courts are simply too busy to spend hours deciphering the meaning of any one brief. If a brief is wordy or unclear or, worse, repetitious, the reader will be tempted only to skim through it. It is therefore imperative that arguments be communicated clearly and, most important, concisely.
Read the full article on American Bar Association Appellate Practice E-Newsletter, Spring 2015 Issue.