Although judges typically admonish lawyers to be succinct, I suspect there are few of us out there who would say that they’ve never had a problem fitting a federal appellate brief within the 14,000 word limit. That may soon become an even bigger challenge, as the rules committee is currently contemplating cutting the word limit from 14,000 words to 12,500 words. How Appealing contains this report on the contemplated rule change, and the actual commentary regarding the rule change is available here. With the 14,000 word limit, you can usually prepare a brief of about 62 pages. Scaling that back to 12,500 words would translate into roughly a 55 page brief. This change, if it is adopted, could have dramatic consequences at the Sixth Circuit, which is notoriously stingy in granting requests for expanded briefing. In fact, there is effectively an unwritten rule at the circuit that the Court will never grant parties the right to exceed the 14,000 word limit. Other circuits are slightly more flexible than that (although, be careful what you ask for, reading an 80-90 page brief can be a challenge). So the question that would remain to be seen is whether the Sixth Circuit would start being more flexible in terms of granting expansions of the page limit if the rules cut the length back to 12,500. I suspect the answer is probably no, and the rule change accordingly force counsel to make the extra effort to streamline their briefs and cut out extraneous details. In the majority of cases, this is probably fine, but some complex cases or a record-intensive cases would certainly be a challenge to cram into 12,500 words. For all who are interested in this rule change, comments are being accepted through February 2015, and you should certainly let your voice be heard.