Welcome back to Questions and SCANswers. Today's mailbag brings this cry of outrage:
Dear SCAN, I see that the CRCs were changed to command left-alignment. But why are we no longer allowed to use full justification? I've been reading and writing fully justified text my entire life (books, newspapers, magazines) and find left-alignment difficult to read ... and also ugly. Signed, WTJ (What's The Justification?!)
SCANswer: WTJ is right that Rule 8.74(b)(4) (effective Jan. 1, 2020) provides: "Alignment: Paragraphs must be left-aligned, not justified." WTJ is also right that most of what we read--including legal reporters--is fully justified. So is WTJ justified to come out guns ablazing?
Here's what typography guru Matthew Butterick has to say in Typography for Lawyers: "If you're using justified text, you must also turn on Hyphenation to prevent gruesomely large spaces between words." He continues, "If I have to use a word processor for a project, I almost never justify text. Why not? Justification if actually a rather sophisticated mathematical process. The justification engine in a word processor is simplistic compared to that of a professional page-layout program. Word-processor justification can often look clunky and coarse. Left-aligning is more reliable." Butterick concludes: "the choice is yours." Well, not in California anymore!
Of course, if you choose to fully justify a brief, it's not likely to get bounced. But it's wiser to follow the rules. Also, some studies show that it's easier or faster to read non-fully-justified text. But there are studies concluding precisely the opposite. Finally, ugly is a matter of taste, and tastes can evolve. Over time, WTJ, you may get used to ragged left-margins and come to appreciate their wild beauty.
Also of note in the ABA Journal: Law student using American Sign Language wins 4th Circuit appeal
a University of Virginia School of Law student who is deaf, recently argued a federal excessive force appeal through the school’s appellate clinic, and three American Sign Language interpreters were also involved in the process.Law.com has ‘Norm of Silence’ Erodes Amid Post-#MeToo Reforms for Judicial Clerks Facing Harassment, NYU Panelists Say (the panelists included 9th Cir. Judge McKeown).