Beyond Words: Making better use of digital tools in motions & briefs
It's great to practice law in the 21st century, isn't it? As writers, we have an amazing set of digital tools literally at our fingertips. We want to take advantage of those tools to help our readers navigate our writing, visualize our evidence, and process our data. But what do our readers want? A couple of years ago, Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Rhonda Wood and her law clerk Brian Johnston tried to find out. See Rhonda K. Wood & Brian Johnston, See How We Read, 24 Green Bag 2d 227 (2021). They surveyed supreme court judges and justices across the country about their reading practices. Their sample size was small (96), and the results were pre-pandemic, but they nonetheless serve as a reminder to us that we are still writing for both digital and paper readers. Fifty-four percent of the judges and justices who responded said that they still read on paper.
And so while we're taking advantage of all of our fun digital tools, we need to be sure that we're not leaving our paper readers behind. And while we're thinking about our paper readers, we need to remember the unique challenges of digital reading (distractibility, eye strain, navigation challenges).
Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to share some digital tools and ideas that I hope will help us address the needs of both our paper and digital readers, and improve the persuasive power of our motions and briefs.