The following is a modified version of an article that appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of PP&D.
You just received an assignment to prepare your first appellate brief. You have spent the previous year drafting predictive memoranda. Your heart pounds with excitement. This brief is your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to persuade through the written word. But before you begin your journey, you must understand that the quality of a brief strongly correlates with the quality of the research.
Writing persuasively for a client is different from objective writing. Unlike a research memorandum, where the cases may not be reviewed by your boss or client, judges and law clerks will scrutinize the cases discussed in your appellate brief. As a young associate, you—not the assigning lawyer—are responsible for the quality and accuracy of the rules and arguments in your brief. Each authority must stand for each stated proposition. Accuracy trumps overzealous advocacy. The following five tips will maximize your likelihood of success on appeal.