How To Write Legal Briefs that Rule

When you’re writing a legal brief, there are a few rules you need to follow. If you follow the tips in this article, your documents will be accepted by judges and other lawyers.

The Law Students’ Guide to Legal Brief Writing – YouTube
– Legal briefs should be clear, concise, and organized.
– Start by thoroughly understanding the case and identifying key legal arguments.
– Craft a compelling introduction that sets the context and outlines the legal issue.
– Use authoritative sources and well-researched legal arguments to support your points.
– Anticipate and address counterarguments to strengthen your position.
– Organize the brief with a structured format, including sections for facts, analysis, and arguments.
– Tailor your writing to align with a judge’s preferences using judicial analytics.
– Review and edit the brief for clarity, coherence, and persuasive impact.
– A well-written legal brief can significantly influence the outcome of a case.

When You’re Writing A Legal Brief, There Are A Few Rules You Need To Follow

First, the courtroom rules: You have to follow the rules of evidence and procedure set out by your state’s court system. This includes things like how witnesses should testify and what kind of evidence is allowed in court.

Second, the law rules: These are called “rules of law” or “case law” because they’re based on cases that have been decided by judges in other cases before yours. 

For example, if your case involves whether someone can sue another person over a contract dispute, then you would use case law from previous cases where that same issue was decided favorably or unfavorably for both parties involved.

Third, brief-writing rules: This means complying with guidelines set by whatever organization requires your document (i.e., your school). You’ll usually find these guidelines on their website or in printed materials they send to you when they accept submissions from students like yourself!

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Keep It Concise

Keep it concise. Make your argument as quickly and clearly as possible. The only thing that matters is getting the court to agree with your position, so don’t waste time and space on things that aren’t relevant to that goal. Use the 1-inch margin (the narrowest legal brief format) and keep paragraphs short no more than four lines per paragraph, preferably less than three. 

If long sentences are unavoidable, break them up into several shorter ones by using semicolons instead of commas or periods at points where readers expect them; this will also help make your writing easier to read aloud in court if you plan to present oral arguments later on (which we highly recommend). Headings are great too! 

They let readers know right away what each section is about so they don’t have to spend time figuring it out for themselves and who doesn’t want less work? Also, remember that there’s no need for footnotes or endnotes in a legal brief; just include citations within parentheses after references made by name or number within paragraphs where necessary.”

Write In A Voice That Comes Across As Professional And Clear

The best briefs are written in a clear, professional voice. This means avoiding jargon and legalese. It also means using active rather than passive verbs, short sentences, simple words, and consistent tone.

For example:

  • Active: “The court held that the defendant was liable.”
  • Passive: “It was held by the court that the defendant was liable.”
  • Active: “The Supreme Court decided that Roe v Wade was unconstitutional.”
  • Passive: “Roe v Wade was decided by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.”

In the realm of law, persuasive writing can be a game-changer. Master the art of crafting compelling arguments through our detailed guide on writing to persuade, designed specifically for lawyers seeking impactful communication strategies.

Use The 1-Inch Margin Wherever Possible

The best thing about using the 1-inch margins is that it makes your briefs easier to read. The reason for this is that you can fit a lot more words on a page when the margins are larger, which is a big advantage if you’re in law school and need to read through dozens of cases every week.

Since most people don’t want to spend all their time hunting for relevant information in legal documents, having bigger margins makes it easier for them to find what they’re looking for without having to waste all of their time trying different keywords or flipping back and forth between pages.

The same goes with printing off copies; if your document has bigger margins than usual then it’ll be cheaper because there’s less paper being printed out per sheet (which means fewer trees will die). And while we’re talking about eco-friendly practices: who doesn’t like saving trees?

Use Footnotes And Endnotes Sparingly

Footnotes and endnotes are used to give extra information to the reader. For example, footnotes may be used to reference a database or cite court cases with which you disagree. 

Footnotes are not necessary, however; they are merely a way of providing additional information that may not fit into the body of your brief but is relevant nonetheless. Endnotes should only be used when citing cases or other evidence they should never be used for personal comments about your client or opposing counsel.

Put Everything In The Bulleted List

No matter how long your brief is, you should always put everything in a bulleted list. This allows the reader to get a quick overview of the case and it makes it easier for them to scan through your arguments.

It also makes it easier for you, as an attorney, to follow along with your writing and edit yourself while you write. When you’re done with all that, formatting becomes easy peasy lemon squeezy because all those lists are nice and neat!

Effectively conveying legal analysis and recommendations is pivotal in the legal field. Explore our step-by-step instructions in our guide on writing a legal memorandum to ensure your memos are clear, concise, and influential.

Think About How Your Document Will Look On Paper

First, think about how your document will look on paper. Use a serif font, such as Times New Roman or Garamond. These fonts are easier to read than sans serif varieties like Arial or Helvetica. Also, keep in mind that when it comes to fonts:

  • The larger the point size of your font, the easier it is for people to scan and fax your brief. Many courts still require briefs to be printed out in black ink on white paper (or vice versa), so go with something easy for them to scan and fax.
  • If you need help formatting a document like a legal brief or motion but aren’t sure where to start, check out LegalZoom’s free templates library!

Avoid Inexperienced Jargon

When you write a brief, the goal is to get your point across as clearly as possible. That’s why it’s important not to use jargon that is unfamiliar to the reader. When you use jargon that they don’t understand, they’re going to be confused and frustrated by your document instead of understanding what you’re trying to say.

In general, anyone reading your legal documents is going by them for a reason they want something done or they need information from someone else. 

So, when writing anything that has anything to do with legally binding contracts and such things like that (which includes briefs), avoid inexperienced jargon and write in plain English so everyone can understand what you’re trying to say!

Providing accurate and well-structured legal guidance is a cornerstone of legal practice. Discover valuable insights and practical tips in our guide on writing effective legal guidance to enhance your ability to offer comprehensive legal advice.

By Following These Simple Tips, You Can Write Brief Documents That Have A Much Better Chance Of Being Accepted

To ensure that your brief is a success, you should:

Use bullet points to simplify your writing and organize the information you present. This helps to make your document easier to read, as well as prevent the reader from becoming bored by long paragraphs of text. Furthermore, it ensures that all of the important points are included in each section of your brief.

Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the page so that space is left around the text so it doesn’t become crowded or difficult to read.

Avoid inexperienced jargon wherever possible if you don’t know what something means in legal terms, ask someone who does before using it in an important document like this one!

Keep sentences short the more words there are per sentence (especially when they’re long), the fewer people will be able to understand them properly – which means that there’s no point putting them there!

Communicating professionally and respectfully with judges via email is crucial in the legal world. Learn the intricacies of crafting impeccable emails in our guide on writing the perfect email to a judge, ensuring your correspondence maintains the highest standards of professionalism.


Writing a legal brief is not an easy task. It requires a lot of research and attention to detail, but with the right approach, you can make it happen. The key to success is knowing what works and following the rules.

Further Reading

Explore these additional resources to enhance your understanding of writing effective legal briefs:

Clio – Legal Brief Template: Access a comprehensive legal brief template that can serve as a foundation for your writing, ensuring a structured and organized approach.

LexisNexis – Write Winning Legal Briefs with Judicial Analytics: Learn how to leverage judicial analytics to craft winning legal briefs that resonate with judges and address their preferences.

Thomson Reuters – How to Write a Legal Brief: Gain insights into the essential elements of writing a compelling legal brief, including tips on research, structure, and persuasive communication.


How do I start writing a legal brief?

To begin writing a legal brief, thoroughly understand the case, review relevant laws, and identify key arguments that support your client’s position.

What should be included in the introduction of a legal brief?

The introduction of a legal brief should concisely outline the case’s context, introduce the parties involved, and provide a clear statement of the legal issue.

How can I enhance the persuasive aspect of my legal brief?

To make your legal brief more persuasive, use well-researched legal arguments, cite authoritative sources, and anticipate and address counterarguments effectively.

Is there a recommended structure for organizing a legal brief?

Yes, a typical structure for a legal brief includes an introduction, statement of facts, legal analysis, arguments, and a conclusion. Each section should be clearly labeled and logically flow from one to the next.

What role do judicial analytics play in writing effective legal briefs?

Judicial analytics provide insights into judges’ past decisions and preferences. By incorporating these insights, you can tailor your legal brief to align with a judge’s inclinations, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.