The digital revolution, already in full swing in trial courts, is moving to the courts of appeals. Changes in how lawyers file briefs and how judges and clerks read them offer new opportunities for appellate lawyers to make their case more persuasively. But they also raise important questions about new forms of writing.
Appellate lawyers are not the first to pounce on new fads. While trial lawyers have become adept at using computer programs that play “aha!” video clips and harnessing the wonders of PowerPoint for their closing arguments, appellate practice remains a happy redoubt of Luddites. Yes, we use word processing software to write briefs and tap electronic databases to do legal research, but that’s about it. The record is paper, the end product is paper, and oral argument is just a person talking.
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