When writing a legal brief, every word you choose, every section you include, every case you cite, they all have a specific purpose—and that purpose is to be persuasive. Each element of your brief must work hand-in-hand with all the others to create a powerfully compelling argument that will sway the reader to your point of view.
One of the most important elements to get right is the statement of the case. In this post, we’ll explain the 7 keys to crafting a persuasive statement of the case.
What is a statement of the case?
A statement of the case comprises a statement of facts and procedural history, which together, should be crafted to create a clear, strong statement of your case.
Why a strong statement of the case matters
A powerful statement of facts is essential to creating a persuasive legal argument. It provides the foundation for your case, and is often the first part of the brief that the judge will read. As such, it’s crucial to get it right.
A strong procedural history can be just as important. The procedural history is the section of the brief that summarizes the procedural background of the case, including the lower court proceedings, and any appeals. The procedural history is important because it provides the context for the legal argument and helps the reader understand how the case got to its current stage.
7 Keys to drafting a strong statement of the case
Here are some keys to keep in mind to help you create both a good statement of facts and procedural history when drafting your next legal brief.
Accuracy is the cornerstone of a good statement of facts. You must ensure that every fact presented is precise and supported by the evidence. Inaccuracies can undermine the credibility of your argument and lead to a negative ruling. To avoid inaccuracies, make sure you review all of the evidence before you draft your statement of facts.
Accuracy is also crucial when drafting the procedural history, so you should ensure that every fact presented is correct and supported by the record. Be sure to review all of the relevant court documents and orders before you draft your procedural history to ensure that you’ve got it right.
Finally, be sure to review both the statement of facts and procedural history carefully for accuracy before submitting your brief to the court.
A good statement of facts and procedural history should be clear and easy to read. They should use plain language to explain complex legal issues and the procedural background of the case, so that even someone who is not a legal expert can understand it. Be sure to avoid jargon and technical terms that may be confusing to the reader; use simple, straightforward language that gets to the point.
3. Chronological order
To make it easier for the reader to follow your argument, you should present both the facts of the case and the procedural history in chronological order. This will help the reader understand the context of the case, how the facts relate to the legal argument, and how the case got to its current stage.
For your statement of facts, start with the relevant background information and then move on to the events leading up to the issue in dispute. For the procedural history, start with the initial filing and then move on to the subsequent court proceedings, including any appeals.
4. Relevant facts
A good statement of facts and procedural history should only include relevant facts that support your argument. You should avoid including irrelevant or extraneous information that may distract from the main issues. It’s also important to include all of the relevant facts, even if they are not helpful to your case. Omitting unfavorable facts can lead to accusations of dishonesty and undermine your credibility with the court.
A good statement of facts and procedural history should be well-organized and easy to follow. You should use consistent headings and subheadings to help the reader understand the structure of your argument and help them easily see how the facts and procedural history support the legal theory.
When drafting a statement of facts or procedural history, it is important to remain objective. You should present the facts without bias or emotion. Avoid making arguments or drawing conclusions in the statement of facts and procedural history, as this can undermine your credibility. Instead, present the facts and history objectively and let the legal argument do the persuading.
7. Relevant citations
To support your argument, you should provide hyperlinked citations to the relevant legal authority for each factual assertion and procedural event. This not only helps to support your argument, but it also provides a basis for the court to verify the accuracy of the facts and procedural history.
As noted in this guide, courts are increasingly requiring hyperlinked citations, and most prefer them.
Make sure that you cite the correct legal authority and that you follow the proper citation format. Using automated brief formatting software can ensure that all your citations comply with Bluebook and/or local style guide format.
Persuade the court with an effective, well-formatted legal brief
A strong statement of facts and procedural history are essential components of a persuasive legal brief. They set the foundation and context for your argument, helping to guide the reader through the legal issues.
To create a powerful statement of the case, you should focus on accuracy, clarity, chronological order, relevant facts, organization, objectivity, and relevant citations. By following these seven keys, you can produce a brief that is clear, concise, and ultimately, persuasive.
Beyond the words you choose and cases you cite, a clean, well-formatted brief reinforces the clarity of your argument by making it easy for the court to read and follow. What’s more, by submitting a brief that complies with all local rules, you demonstrate your professionalism and respect for the court—which sets the right tone for your case.