How To Write A Legal Brief – Guidelines From Professionals

For students majoring in Law and adjacent disciplines, it is important to be well aware how to write a legal brief. This type of writing is an important part of the curriculum and studying process. So, it is essential for law students to be knowledgeable about it. Many legal schools concentrate on students` skills that help them provide a legal brief.

Students` ability to express thoughts in a clear way, to provide solid arguments with evidence, and to maintain structure of information layout is highly valued both within the academic realm and future career path. There are also court competitions, where lawyers are able to demonstrate their expertise. So, the principles of law brief writing are significant, too. Compared to other writing types in the legal area, these documents are logical, brief (as it can be inferred from the title), and concise.

The structure should be predictable and adhere to the template. The principles of appellate brief writing start to be taught in law schools. They should provide explanations why someone files a case and analyze its result. At times, the legal brief should be submitted along with the legal memo. When it comes to writing legal briefs for professional but not academic purposes, this task can become complicated, especially for a novice lawyer.

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Thus, they need to practice thoroughly while still studying at an educational establishment. One of the most evident challenges that lawyers encounter in legal brief writing is that they tend to use complicated words and long phrases difficult to comprehend. These structures are an obstacle in the way of writing as requested or expected. To be effective in writing appellate briefs, lawyers should adhere to the principles of 3 C`s: clarity, conciseness, and crispness of tone.

As such, it would suffice to use simpler English but be clear and consistent when it comes to elaborating ideas. This document should not bring any confusion to the reader. So, it is advisable to avoid using acronyms or abbreviations. You should also consider the usage of the most suitable terms. It is also essential to be careful about choosing a proper tone of writing and appropriate words.

Know Your Legal Issues

Once you have picked the case you are eager to reflect on and collected enough facts and evidence, it is now time to organize and structure the issues at hand in a proper way. So, if you do not have any writing prompt, you can come up with a list of questions you would like to address. With such a plan or outline, you can maintain your focus and save time for research. Keep in mind that if you are working on a topic or branch of law that is relatively new to you, try to gather sufficient background information in order to get familiar with the topic.

As a helpful guideline, you may use some Practice Notes in Law that may provide clear explanations and illustrations of different kinds of legal writing. If you spend some time investigating ne topics, you will see how quickly you can become well-versed in the legal issue you have not known about before.

Adjust Your Approach To The Type Of Brief Writing You Require

When it comes to legal briefs, predominantly they appear in two types: trial and appellate briefs. The former is usually required before or during the court trial. It is written either in support of or opposition to the issue raised in the court of law. The latter is provided to the court of appeals with the aim of supporting or opposing the argument that the court`s decision should be overturned.

Check out other differences below:

  • Trial briefs differ depending on the kind of issue that it should support and the type of court it is submitted to, including criminal, immigration or civil court. When the issue looks the same at first glance, it can be presented in different ways depending on whether it is brought up as a civil or criminal case. When working on a trial brief, you may always ask the lawyer for a template. Make sure the lawyer you ask for support is experienced and reliable.
  • Appellate briefs are formal in their nature and longer. When presenting this legal brief, you have to provide a cover page, a table of contents, a list of authorities, statement of facts, raised questions, and the main legal argument. Specific requirements depend on the demands raised by the appellate court.

Persuade The Audience But Not Argue

A legal brief can be effective when it takes into consideration the target audience. Specifically, when reading your brief, the judges or the legal clerks should ask themselves about the parties` reasons for fighting over something. So, your underlying goal is to provide convincing evidence for supporting the client`s case and to evoke empathy for your arguments. Consider that you can be helpful to the court in the process of coming to a conclusion regarding the case.

Structuring The Argument

Before starting to work on a draft of the case legal brief, an attorney should clearly specify the legal points that are brought to the issue. As such, it is necessary to commence with reviewing all documents about the case, investigating legal rules and principles, and coming up with strong arguments and ample evidence for support. Afterward, an attorney should formulate the argument so that the judge could be led by concise and supported steps. This approach helps to move from one step to another and to reach the desired conclusion.

Maintain Logical Connection Between The Ideas

Keep track of the subject and never deviate from the central point. A brief should be well-structured and clear to make sure that no idea confuses the reader. So, you need to maintain a proper flow of writing and connect ideas in a logical and clear way To ensure this connectivity between the ideas, ensure you develop the subject by adding ideas that refer to the preceding ones. You can use transitions, including «additionally,» «furthermore,» «moreover,» «also,» «first,» «second,» «finally,» and others.

Do Not Be Afraid Of Automation Tools

Automation tools do not undermine your skills or expertise – when used adequately, they just add up to your writing efficiency. With their help, you can manage some tasks while putting emphasis on strategic thinking, argumentation, and persuasion. Compose can be used for adding all authorities you need as well as arguments. BriefCatch can be used for reviewing the content and correcting formatting errors whatsoever.

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