How do i write an appellate brief

How to write a case brief for law school: Excerpt reproduced from Introduction to the Study of Law:

How do i write an appellate brief

This is especially true in a close case. So why do lawyers often treat reply briefs like an afterthought? Lawyers may paint a masterpiece in their opening brief—whether it is in support of summary judgment, an appeal, or a simple discovery issue—but when it comes time to compose a reply brief, they use broken paintbrushes and leftover paint.

By following 10 simple commandments you can master the art of writing an effective reply brief and in the process increase your chances of prevailing in any given case. File a reply brief unless there are strategic reasons not to.

Given that reply briefs are optional, the threshold consideration is always whether to file one at all. Most judges and lawyers agree that the opportunity to have the last word on an issue should not be squandered absent extraordinary circumstances. Believe it or not, lawyers sometimes forget the basic purpose of a reply brief.

How to brief a case | Lloyd Sealy Library at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

A reply brief is not a condensed version or executive summary of the opening brief. You should get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible.

If opposing counsel conceded any significant issues in the answering brief, point that out for the court. If opposing counsel did not address an issue raised in the opening brief, highlight that fact and consider arguing waiver.

Having the last word on an issue does not give you free rein to take a cheap shot at opposing counsel.

how do i write an appellate brief

In most instances, this will hurt your cause more than it will help it. Leave out weak arguments. Your reply brief should highlight the strength of your case.

Focus on the important, winnable issues. Recite only the crucial facts and leading authority supporting your position.

How to Write an Appellate Brief

Weak arguments undermine your credibility. In the immortal words of U. Sometimes a misguided lawyer will throw every conceivable issue and argument into an opening brief and hope that something sticks. That is bad enough, but do not make matters worse by revisiting one of your flimsy arguments in the reply brief.

Some judges, such as Judge W. Eugene Davis of the U. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, may interpret this as a signal that your entire case is weak.

Garner, Judges on Briefing: A National Survey, 8 Scribes J. Legal Writing 1, 7 — interview with Judge W. Or, as cautioned by U. Having the last word on an issue imposes a heightened duty of candor.

Legal Briefs Are Arguments

While you should always strive to maintain credibility with the court by being fair with the facts and the law, this is a particularly momentous duty in reply briefs.

Expect close scrutiny of what you say, as courts are usually extra-cautious about believing what is asserted in a reply brief.For example, there are very specific format requirements for a brief that supports a motion for summary judgment in a trial court that vary considerably from the requirements for an appellate brief before the state supreme court.

An appellate brief contains a statement of the legal issues, a statement of facts, an argument and a conclusion. The following is a description of each element of a brief. Creating an appellate brief for the first time When you sit down for the first time to write an appellate brief, it is normal to feel lost.

For the brief to be persuasive, the points of fact and law need to be credible. In theory, every law school graduate should know something about how to write an effective appellate brief.

How to brief a case

After all, first-year legal writing classes in law school often concentrate on that skill. Appellate practice is rarely based upon raw emotion, but rather it is about the issue and how the law applies to that issue. I strongly recommend reading Bryan Garner's "The Winning Brief," which is a great resource.

Chapters address defining the issue and then stating it succinctly. It takes great courage to write a short brief. We. Appellate brief An appellate brief is a written legal argument presented to an appellate court.

Its purpose is to persuade the higher court to uphold or reverse the trial court’s decision.

How to Write a Legal Brief |