January 01, 2016

Opening Statement: Seven Tips for Writing Briefs and Motions

Practical advice from a veteran litigator.

Steven A. Weiss

Writing briefs and motions takes a lot of practice and a lot of thought. Every motion and brief should fit into the grand scheme of the case, and every motion and brief should be used as an opportunity to tell your story and educate the judge on the facts and the law. Not using briefs as part of your strategy is a wasted opportunity.

Remember that judges are human. Their attention span is not any longer than ours. When they start reading a brief, they read as little or as much as they want, and one of the determinants of how much they read is how well written the brief is. If the brief is confusing and disjointed, or filled with typos and difficult to understand, the judge may not read from start to finish. On the other hand, if the brief is well written, tells a story, and keeps the judge interested, he or she is much more likely to read the entire brief.

Here are a few simple tips that will make your brief writing better and more persuasive. Although everyone has their own style of writing, some basic rules apply regardless of style.

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