LOL, U.S. Court of Appeals Says B4N to Lawyers Who Used Too Many Acronyms

Maybe there should be an opposite abbreviation to TMI such as NEI (not enough information).

In a case involving a challenge to nuclear waste fees at a site intended to replace the Yucca Mountain disposal site, brought to our attention by way of The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia admonished the lawyers – in the attention-stealing first footnote no less – for using too many acronyms:

1. We also remind the parties that our Handbook of Practice and Internal Procedures states that “parties are strongly urged to limit the use of acronyms” and “should avoid using acronyms that are not widely known.” Brief-writing, no less than “written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.” George Orwell, Politics and the English Language,” 13 Horizon 76 (1946). Here, both parties abandoned any attempt to write in plain English, instead abbreviating every conceivable agency and statute involved, familiar or not, and littering their briefs with references to “SNF,” “HLW,” “NWF,” “NWPA,” and “BRC” – shorthand for “spent nuclear fuel,” “highlevel radioactive waste,” the “Nuclear Waste Fund,” the Nuclear Waste Policy Act,” and the “Blue Ribbon Commission.”

Who knew there was a written court rule against acronyms or that George Orwell gave legal-writing advice?

— Nat’l Ass’n of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. U.S. Dep’t of Energy, Case No. 11-1066 (D.C. Cir., June 1, 2012)

 

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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