Typography (Or Why Your Briefs Should Be Visually Appealing)

I trust that anyone who reads my blog would also read the much more popular Ernie the Attorney. If you do not, I urge you to go subscribe to Ernie’s blog right now. Ernie is one of the pioneers in the legal blogging world and consistently posts well written, topical, and useful posts. This week, Ernie is talking about things that he learned from Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers. This looks like a fascinating book. I have ordered my copy, but I am waiting for it to arrive (Amazon was temporarily out of stock when I ordered it).

While waiting, however, I have had the pleasure of reading Ernie’s posts about lessons that he learned from the book. Thus far, he has posted the following:

If you have any interest in making your briefs more readable, you must read these posts from Ernie. You also might want to check out the book. I am waiting with bated breath for mine to arrive.

If you are not a typography nerd (there’s no shame in that) and you are wondering what all of the fuss is about, let me just say that how you format your document both affects the reader’s ability to read the documents, as well as the reader’s perception of you.

I was recently on a call with one of my clients and we were working through some discovery issues that had been raised by opposing counsel in a letter. This attorney clearly does not put a lot of thought into formatting his documents and one of the things that my client told me was that the letters from the opposing attorney are hard to read because of the way in which he formats them.

Even if you don’t want to study this issue, you should spend a little time just figuring out if there is something you can do to make your documents more effective.

Make Your Contact Information Available

A recent post on Business Writing caught my eye. In the post, Lynn Gaertner-Johnston relates a story about her decision not to recommend a person for a consultant job because she could not find her contact information. Gaertner-Johnston explains:

But when I tried to track down Rita’s contact information to give to my client, I couldn’t find anything but a gmail address. An email Rita had sent me recently did not include her phone number, website URL, or any other contact information.

Rather than give my client Rita’s name and gmail address with no other way to contact her or check her out, I recommended another consultant.

I run into this problem all of the time. I will receive an email from someone and the email does not include any phone number or other contact information. I receive the same thing with voicemails. Someone will call and ask me to return their call. However, they either rush through their phone number, making it incomprehensible, or they don’t leave one at all.

The reality is that if I have ever had any extended communication with you, I likely have all of your contact information in my contact database, but why make me go look for. If I have two people I need to call back and one person left me their number (either in voicemail or email) and the other did not, guess who I am calling first.

As Gaertner-Johnston explains:

Here’s the moral of the story: If you want work, share your contact information. Put it on everything. Include it on every message.

Sage advice that I urge everyone to follow.

You can find me contact info here, here, or here, or by sending a text to 50500 with the message BryanSims.