A legal brief is a written argument that addresses the facts of a legal case, outlines the relevant laws and regulations, and explains why your client should win (or lose). It’s one of the most important parts of being a lawyer, so it’s essential to get it right!
This article will cover everything you need to know about writing briefs from researching cases and writing in plain language, to avoiding boring clichés and clichés that matter. We’ll also include some tips on working with clients and making sure your briefs are effective. By following these ten steps for success, you’ll be able-bodied and ready for any briefcase challenge:
|1. Clear organization is key to effective legal briefs.|
|2. Utilize persuasive language to strengthen your arguments.|
|3. Thoroughly research legal precedents to support your case.|
|4. Address potential counterarguments to strengthen your position.|
|5. Edit and proofread meticulously for clarity and professionalism.|
|6. Craft compelling introductions to engage the reader.|
|7. Use headings to structure your brief and improve readability.|
|8. Maintain a professional tone and adhere to legal writing norms.|
|9. Incorporate relevant statutes and case law for stronger impact.|
|10. Conclude your brief with a concise and impactful summary.|
1. Understand The Case
The first thing to do is read the case thoroughly. The facts and law will help you understand what happened and why it happened that way, so try to be as thorough in your reading as possible.
Look for any details that might be relevant later on, such as names or places mentioned in the brief (especially if these are also mentioned in other briefs). If multiple cases are being presented, take notes or highlight important parts of each one as you go along so that you can compare them later on.
Understand the legal issue
In many cases, there will only be one main point being taken from a brief—the legal issue involved with this particular situation and this should be stated clearly at some point throughout your writing process (it may even be stated outright at the beginning of your essay).
Building strong legal arguments requires attention to detail. Learn valuable tips in our guide to copyediting for lawyers that can enhance the clarity and effectiveness of your legal briefs.
2. Know Your Audience
In legal briefs, you must know your audience. You’re writing for a judge or jury whoever will be reading the brief. Certain things need to be included for them to understand the issue and make an informed decision.
It’s also important that you know the court in which your brief will be filed. If it’s not a federal court, then it might require different formatting requirements and wording than what would work in Federal Court.
Knowing opposing counsel is also very important so you can properly anticipate their arguments and anticipate how they’ll respond if they bring up certain points against yours (or vice versa).
Lastly, knowing your client and their needs helps because then we can craft an argument that will win over both sides of those issues we need to be resolved by either side–our client or the opposing party’s client.
3. Follow The Proper Format
A brief is a written document that is submitted to a court or a tribunal. Briefs are used to present facts, rules, and other information about a party’s case in an organized manner. They are also used by attorneys as an argumentative piece; they contain reasons why the court should rule in favor of their client, based on evidence and legal precedents.
A typical brief has three main parts:
- The introduction or “paragraph 1” section states your position on issue 2) The body paragraphs which list out your arguments 3) A conclusion paragraph at the end of your brief
Persuasion is an art in legal writing. Explore our comprehensive guide for lawyers on persuasive writing to discover techniques that can help you craft compelling arguments within your legal briefs.
4. Use A Clear Narrative
Not only does a clear narrative help readers understand the facts, but it also helps them understand the law. By laying out your case in an easy-to-follow way, you’re helping your audience focus on what’s important and gain insight into both sides’ arguments.
By using a straightforward narrative, readers can better follow along with what happened and why it was important to include in your brief. A clear narrative makes it easier for judges and juries to understand complicated cases which means you’ll have an easier time winning the case!
5. Work Hard To Simplify Complex Ideas
Be clear and concise. Use simple language that is easy to understand, even for non-lawyers.
Use examples. Saying “The defendant was negligent” is not as effective as saying “The defendant left the door unlocked, which allowed burglars to break in and steal money from the safe” because it makes it easier for the reader to visualize what happened and take action based on this information.
Use a wider vocabulary than you would normally use when talking with friends or family members (e.g., “my client’s freedom from incarceration”). You can also use a dictionary and Thesaurus, which will help with finding synonyms for words you might be stuck on using over and over again in your briefs!
Run your work through Grammarly first before submitting it as an official brief! This amazing software program will catch any typos or grammatical errors so they don’t get passed along into court documents where they could cause serious problems later down the road – like losing cases unexpectedly due to poor writing skills!”
Mastering the art of writing legal memorandums is a crucial skill for attorneys. Check out our guide on how to write a legal memorandum to ensure your legal briefs are well-structured and effectively convey your legal analysis.
6. Avoid Boring Clichés And Use Metaphors That Matter
As we mentioned above, writing in a way that makes your arguments memorable is an important part of legal writing. The best way to do this is to avoid clichés and use metaphors that mean something.
If you find yourself repeating the same old phrases over and over again, it’s time for a bit of a re-write! It’s not just boring; it’s unoriginal too. Just like you would avoid clichés in your everyday speech, so should you avoid them when writing legal briefs.
Your readers will notice if you are using overly-used phrases (and most likely become annoyed by them), which means they won’t take your argument as seriously as they could have done otherwise – because who wants to spend their time listening/reading through something boring?
Elevating your legal writing skills takes practice and knowledge. Explore the top 11 things that will make you a better legal writer to gain valuable insights that can enhance the quality of your legal briefs and other legal documents.
7. Read Your Work Out Loud
The next step is to read your work out loud. This helps you hear mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It also helps you find the flow of your writing. You’ll know if something sounds awkward or feels like it’s missing something when it doesn’t flow well when spoken.
Reading out loud also helps you find the rhythm of your words and sentences, as well as how they sound together or apart from each other. Finally, reading out loud can help you find the tone of your piece:
Does it sound authoritative? Casual? Professional? Sarcastic? Reading aloud will tell you if there are any parts that don’t fit with any of these tones and make adjustments accordingly!
Reading aloud can be an important part in both editing pieces before submitting them AND also proofreading them after they’ve been submitted so that no errors slip through unnoticed before publication!
Writing A Legal Brief Can Be Hard, But It’s Not Impossible
By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Writing a legal brief is one of the most important parts of being a lawyer. It’s also one of the hardest, but it’s not impossible. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Know your audience: The court or judge who will be reading your brief has certain expectations about what sorts of arguments and evidence are appropriate for their decision-making purposes, so make sure that your argument fits within those boundaries.
If you’re writing a brief for an appeals court, keep in mind that they’ve already heard both sides’ arguments at trial and will feel less need to hear again from each side; if you’re writing for a lower court trial judge, however rehashing facts might be helpful because they may not have been there but watch out for repetition! Follow proper format:
In addition to being useful as proofreaders (or editors), following proper formatting guidelines shows respect to whoever reads your work and can help avoid embarrassing errors like forgetting which side represents whom or misnaming one party’s counsel as another party’s counsel because their names were similar enough that they got confused somewhere along the way.
Starting your journey in legal writing? Our Legal Writing 101 guide offers fundamental insights to help you lay a strong foundation, improving your ability to draft clear and concise legal briefs.
Writing legal briefs can be challenging, but when done right they can make a huge impact on the outcome of a case. What do you think? Do you have any tips to share with those who are new to this area of law? Let us know in the comments below!
Here are some additional resources to help you enhance your legal brief writing skills:
5 Tips for Writing Effective Legal Briefs: Discover practical tips to improve your legal brief writing, ensuring clarity and impact.
How to Write a Convincing Legal Brief: Explore insights on crafting persuasive legal briefs that present your arguments effectively.
Mastering the Art of Writing a Legal Brief: Learn essential techniques to master the art of legal brief writing and make your case more compelling.
How do I improve the clarity of my legal briefs?
Clear and concise writing is crucial in legal briefs. Break down complex concepts into simpler language and use headings to organize your content logically.
What should be included in the structure of a legal brief?
A typical legal brief structure includes an introduction, statement of facts, issues presented, arguments, legal analysis, and a conclusion.
How can I make my legal briefs more persuasive?
To make your legal briefs persuasive, focus on building a strong argument, supporting it with relevant legal precedents, and addressing counterarguments effectively.
What’s the importance of legal research in writing a brief?
Legal research forms the foundation of a well-written brief. It helps you find authoritative sources, relevant case law, and statutes to support your arguments.
How do I ensure proper formatting and citation in my legal briefs?
Adhere to the specific formatting guidelines provided by your jurisdiction or court. Use proper legal citation methods, such as Bluebook, to accurately reference sources.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.