December 18, 2012 Articles

Tips for the First-Time Brief Writer in the U.S. Court of Appeals

Know the rules, know the law and the record, and unleash your writing beast.

By Anne Marie Lofaso and Nicholas F. Stump

You’re a trial attorney who tends to settle your cases. Or maybe you’re a solo practitioner who generally practices before the state courts or possibly a recently licensed attorney who has placed a shingle outside your home in a rural part of the state. One of your clients has a case in the local federal district court. The case doesn’t settle, and you win at the trial level, which comes as no surprise to you because, as your mother always tells you, you’re a brilliant lawyer. Then, your opponent files a notice of appeal. You realize that this is the very first time that you will be handling an appeal since law school and your first case in a United States court of appeals. What do you do? Assuming you have excellent research and writing skills, you realize that you need to act quickly. This guide will help you get started.

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