Blog Network

About The Bloggers


Microsoft Word, the Clear Choice for Verbose Lawyers Facing a Word Limit

As discussed here, jurisdictions such as Texas have become fed up with "chicanery" by lawyers who circumvent page limit rules by decreasing font sizes and white space in their briefs. In response, the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the state's 14 intermediate appellate courts eliminated page limits in favor of the chicanery-proof standard of a word count limit. A post on the Supreme Court of Texas Blog Sunday (via How Appealing), however, reveals that even an apparently objective standard such as word count has some play in it.

The new Texas word count rule states that while lawyers must include a certificate of compliance with each filing stating its word count, lawyers may rely upon "the word count of the computer program used to prepare the document." Surprisingly, it turns out that differences in the counting methodologies used by the leading word processing programs lead to differences in word count that may be important for lawyers whose briefs are approaching the word count limits.

According to the SCTB, word processors vary in how they count many of the items that end up in legal briefs. For example, they produce different calculations when reviewing the following types of items:

  • a phrasal adjective such as "summary-judgment motion"
  • a legal citation such as "S.W.3d"

  • a page cite such as "123-25"

  • a cite to the record such as "4.RR.124-25," or to a statute such as "§123.23(A)(1)(i)(a)"

Indeed, in an experiment SCTB conducted by pasting a page and a half from a recent appellate brief into four different word processors, SCTB found a sizable range in the reported word counts:

  • Microsoft Word: 363 words
  • LibreOffice: 364 words
  • Wordperfect: 380 words
  • Pages: 405 words

Read the whole post here to learn why the numbers vary but, as SCTB concludes, the bottom line is this: "The clear choice for verbose people is Microsoft Word."

Posted by Bruce Carton on January 14, 2013 at 04:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


About ALM  |  About  |  Customer Support  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms & Conditions