Don’t use THIS FONT in your legal briefs (or anywhere else probably).


This one is a bit of a total stretch.

It’s about an employment law-adjacent lawsuit. The owner of a limited liability company filed suit under 42 U.S.C. §1981, claiming that another company discriminated on account of race by evicting the LLC for failure to pay rent. The district court dismissed the suit because the owner didn’t hold the lease.

An amended complaint fared no better for reasons irrelevant to this post. So, an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals followed, which that court also gave the back of the hand. Case dismissed.

But not before the Seventh Circuit offered a hard lesson in legal brief writing. It began this way:

We are publishing this opinion not just to make these obvious points but also to urge all lawyers to read and follow this circuit’s Practitioner’s Handbook for Appeals (2020 ed.), which … discusses the uses of reply briefs and docketing statements, subjects on which [the appellant’s lawyer may need a refresher.

Tell me more!

Professional typographers set books in New Baskerville, Book Antiqua, Calisto, Century, Century Schoolbook, Bookman Old Style and many other proportionally spaced serif faces. Any face with the word “book” in its name is likely to be good for legal work. Baskerville, Bembo, Caslon, Deepdene, Galliard, Jenson, Minion, Palatino, Pontifex, Stone Serif, Trump Mediäval, and Utopia are among other faces designed for use in books and thus suitable for brieflength presentations.

The Court also noted that the “OG” Times New Roman and the bougie Garamond fonts are ok, but not as good as faces in the Bookman and Century families.

Further down the pecking order, “Bodoni and other faces with exaggerated stroke widths are effective in headlines but hard to read in long passages.”

But the appellant’s lawyer made the cataclysmic mistake of setting his brief in Bernhard Modern, which the Seventh Circuit described as “a display face suited to movie posters and used in the title sequence of the Twilight Zone TV show.”


The court added, “We hope that Bernhard Modern has made its last appearance in an appellate brief.”

Now, this blog is a safe space for litigators, other lawyers, and non-lawyers alike. So, tell me, what font do you use for lengthy papers or other written correspondence?

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