Creating a winning brief requires significant attention to detail, research, a thorough understanding of the legal issues involved, flawless formatting, and the ability to think one step ahead of any counter arguments. A well-constructed brief demonstrates your command of the law and makes it easy for the court to follow and adopt your argument.
The sandwich approach to briefing
You can think of a great brief like a great sandwich. Your well laid out argument is the “meat” (or veggies, or whatever you prefer) in the middle, but the initial taste a reader will get is the top slice of bread, and the last taste they’ll get is the bottom slice—so they’d both better not be stale. A compelling brief also requires a strong introduction and closing. Below are some tips and suggestions that will help you write both.
The 5 elements of a compelling legal brief intro
A good legal brief introduction is important, because it sets the stage for the rest of your document. Here are five tips for writing an effective introduction…
1. State the issue: Begin by stating the issue that the brief will address. This should be a clear and concise statement that lets the reader know what your brief is about.
2. Provide context: Once you’ve stated the issue, provide some context for it. Explain why the issue is important and how it came to be. This will help the reader understand why the issue is being addressed and what is at stake.
3. Preview your argument: Give the reader a preview of your argument. Briefly summarize the main points that you will be making in the brief. This will help the reader understand the structure of the brief and what they can expect to find in it.
4. Use clear and concise language: It’s important to use clear and precise language in the introduction. Avoid using jargon or arcane terms that some readers may not be as familiar with. Use simple, straightforward language that is easy to understand.
5. Be persuasive: Your intro is your first opportunity to convince the reader that your argument is strong and that you have a compelling case. Use confident, persuasive language and make a clear and compelling case for your position.
Overall, a good introduction should be clear, concise, and persuasive. It should set the stage for the rest of your brief and convince the reader that your argument is strong and compelling.
Build credibility and finish strong with a short conclusion
Keeping a conclusion short is important for a number of reasons, particularly in the legal field where clarity and precision are highly valued. Why?
First, a short conclusion ensures that the reader is able to quickly and easily understand the key takeaways of your brief or argument. Legal writing can often be dense and technical, so a succinct conclusion helps to distill and elevate the most important points in a clear and accessible way.
Second, a short conclusion shows that you have a strong command of the material and are able to summarize complex legal arguments concisely. This can help to build credibility with the reader, whether it be a judge, opposing counsel, or other legal professionals.
Third, a short conclusion can help demonstrate your respect for the reader’s time and attention. Busy legal professionals may not have the luxury of reading through lengthy, meandering conclusions. Getting straight to the point shows that you value the reader’s time and understand that brevity can be just as effective as length.
Finally, a short conclusion can help to reinforce the overall organization and structure of your brief or argument. A clear and concise summary of the key points reminds the reader of the structure and flow of your argument, which will help to strengthen the overall persuasiveness of your brief.
5 Examples of short, effective legal brief conclusions
Briefing is time-consuming, hard work. If you’re feeling stuck about how to end your brief, consider these examples of short conclusions that you can adapt, as needed, to fit your case.
1. “For the reasons discussed above, we respectfully request that the court grant our motion for summary judgment.”
2. “In conclusion, the evidence presented clearly demonstrates that our client is not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. We urge the court to dismiss this case.”
3. “Based on the foregoing, we ask the court to deny the defendant’s motion to dismiss and allow this case to proceed to trial.”
4. “In summary, the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We ask that the court acquit our client of all charges.”
5. “In light of the legal precedent and the facts of this case, we respectfully request that the court grant our motion to suppress the evidence.”
By keeping your conclusion brief and to the point, you can ensure that the reader understands your key points. You can also demonstrate your command of the material, show respect for the reader’s time, and reinforce the overall organization and structure of your argument.
Writing more persuasive legal briefs
Depending upon the type of law you practice, your workload, the size of your firm, and the nature of your cases, you may file a handful of briefs each year, dozens, or over 100. No matter how often you file, these tips should help you write more compelling briefs by sandwiching your brilliant argument between a strong introduction and conclusion.