What Are Some Tips for Writing Legal Briefs?


Quick Answer

Some tips for writing successful legal briefs include making a clear argument, telling an engaging story in a simple manner, avoiding over-citing precedent, being succinct and being sure to include knowledge of the other side's strong points, according the American Bar Association. Such briefs are important because they often set the stage for any other proceedings during a case.

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Full Answer

The main argument of the legal brief needs to express the exact point to get across to the court, explains the American Bar Association. The use of jargon or too much reliance on precedence should not obscure the argument. To capture the attention of the judge, the attorney should compose the argument in away that a lay person would understand it. Judges are likely to pay more attention to informative arguments that make the positions clear. Whenever possible, the writer should use pictures or diagrams for added clarity.

A legal brief correctly distinguishes between binding and persuasive authority. An effective legal brief also points the reader to case law that involves the same or a similar set of facts. Cited legal authority in a legal brief that is off point distracts the reader, as the State Bar of Wisconsin indicates.

Lawyers need to take special care to not overuse statutory language, because the case often does not clearly involve any one statute, warns the American Bar Association. Writers of these briefs should also be succinct, given that judges need to hear the information regarding cases quickly. It is useful for the judge's understanding if the writer of the brief shows clear knowledge of the other side's position, strengthening the argument against it.

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