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November 2018

The Scrivener: Call the FBI, CIA, and PD, ASAP! Acronyms and Initialisms

By Elizabeth Scott Moïse

SC Lawyer

Reprinted with permission from the S.C. Bar’s S.C. Lawyer

Pity the poor judges presiding over District of Columbia courts, where all those government cases are filed with so many acronyms that the court’s Handbook of Practice and Internal Procedures has “strongly urged” (you know what that means) practitioners to avoid them. Sometimes, the avalanche of acronyms and initialisms in court filings are more than a body can take:

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,” “high-level radioactive waste,” the “Nuclear Waste Fund,” the “Nuclear Waste Policy Act,” and the “Blue Ribbon Commission.”