Writing appellate briefs for young lawyers

Consider the standard of review. If your client lost, it is unlikely that merely repeating the same arguments will lead to a different result on appeal. Focus only on your strongest arguments.

The key is to think about whether referencing a case adds something substantive to the brief, or is merely redundant, before adding it to the list. If you think of one that appears to illustrate your point, consider whether and how your opponent might try to turn it against you.

If your client is the appellant and the standard of review in your case is abuse of discretion, you must show that the trial court made a significant mistake.

Making a huge issue over a minor error, especially if it might have been the result of honest oversight, will detract from the merits of your argument. First, streamline the number of cases you cite, and do not routinely include lengthy string cites.

Years ago, I read a set of briefs, including a sur-reply, that consisted writing appellate briefs for young lawyers of the parties harping on how dishonest the other side was. If there is controlling authority directly on point for your proposition, the court will typically be satisfied with a citation to one case setting out the law—there is no need to cite five additional cases that stand for the exact same point.

Similarly, ignoring controlling authority that is problematic for your case is unlikely to be successful. Second, focus on controlling authority wherever possible. Drafting your brief writing appellate briefs for young lawyers the relevant formatting requirements will provide a good sense of how much space you actually have to work with, and can help you avoid needing to make extensive cuts at the last minute.

Choose your citations with care. Even better, if a recent case states that the proposition has been well established for 20 years, you could just quote that sentence and note that your case cited many others. Think carefully about both the substantive content and typographic presentation of your arguments.

If a table of contents or table of authorities is required, provide them in the correct format. If your arguments can be carefully and completely made in fewer pages than you are allotted, feel free to stop writing.

Another mistake to prevent is the case of a properly spelled but incorrect word slipping through the spell-check. A judge with a heavy workload will likely be grateful to read fewer, tightly crafted pages than to face a lengthy, rambling brief.

If the authority can be found by competent research, do not bet your case on the belief that opposing counsel, the judges, and the clerks are all incompetent. If there is an obvious rejoinder, skip the analogy. This mistake occurs far too frequently, especially among counsel who do not often practice before an appellate court.

Appellate Briefs We have the expertise needed to prepare signature-ready appellate briefs, and have prepared over 6, briefs for: Similarly, if your client won, do not just assume that what worked below will suffice in the appellate court.

Include accurate pin cites to help the reader immediately locate the cited proposition or quotation and easily verify that your citation is correct. Also, appellate briefs are advocacy pieces, not law-review articles.

However, all of this can be done in a straightforward, professional manner. Appellate practice, brief writing, young lawyers Belinda I. A brief should be as easy to read as possible, both as a matter of content and of formatting. Do not misstate the facts. In sum, writing an appellate brief should never be a rote exercise.

Nor is an appeal an appropriate venue to try to settle old scores from the trial itself. In this day of electronic word processing, it often only takes a few clicks to make the necessary changes.

If you do not do it in the brief, there is an excellent chance it will come up at oral argument; it never hurts to be prepared. In addition, if there is a weakness in your argument, consider addressing it directly and providing the best response you can in a preemptive fashion.

In addition to following the applicable rules, check to see if the court has recommendations regarding preferred fonts, justification, the use of bold, italics, or underlining, or any other stylistic features. Nothing will destroy your credibility faster than a deliberate misstatement of the law.

Conversely, if your opponent cites a case that in inapposite, explain all the factors that distinguish your matter from the cited decision.

This too might seem so obvious that it hardly bears mention, but many filed appellate briefs contain typographical errors. Where there is a well-developed body of law in the relevant circuit, extensive citation to other jurisdictions, especially when coupled with failure to cite cases from the circuit you are in, suggests one of two things: All of these are excellent tips.

If your citations are rock-solid, the court will not rule in favor of your opponent because he or she cited 50 cases to your Accordingly, appellate briefs are not the place to dazzle the appellate panel with proof that you have read every single case on point in the relevant jurisdiction, or worse, the entire country.

Certain tactics that might be effective at trial can come across as theatrical on appeal, are rarely persuasive, and can even be counterproductive.Writing Appellate Briefs, for Young Lawyers. By Belinda I.

Mathie A dvice on how to craft an effective appellate brief is readily available, ranging from the general to the. A Judge Lays Down the Law on Writing Appellate Briefs Vol.

Writing Appellate Briefs, for Young Lawyers

32 No. 5. By Raymond M. Kethledge Hon. Raymond M. Kethledge serves as a judge on the U.S.

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Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. When I read a brief, the first thing I’m judging is the person who wrote it. If you could give a young lawyer a single piece of advice, what would it be?.

Be Sure to Follow Michael Skotnicki's Blog on Appellate Brief Writing, "Briefly Writing." "Some lawyers have a difficult time asking for help. But outsourcing isn't a sign of weakness.

Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq. is not a law firm; it a freelance legal writing service for attorneys and law firms only. Michael Skotnicki. News | July 9, Katten Pro Bono Efforts Help Save Lives, Rebuild Communities in War Zones.

How To Write a Legal Brief. You need to learn how to break bad old habits, and learn effective new ones. most legal brief writing by new lawyers is awful. And this isn’t 1Ls we’re talking about, but practicing lawyers.

But summaries aren’t just for appellate briefs. Going to pull a large blockquote? Judge probably won’t read it. Writing a Better Brief Bridget Asay, Esq. Mid-Winter Thaw Ten Ways to Strengthen Your Brief Vermont Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Division January 17, For too many appellate advocates, compiling the printed case seems to be an afterthought, rather than a central part of the preparation of their appellate briefs.

That’s a mistake.

Writing appellate briefs for young lawyers
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