The variety of possible techniques is limited only by the creativity of the writer. After a good conclusion, the reader should know what you said, why it was important, and that you are done. It should amount to a written mic drop. Make phrases like “in conclusion,” “to summarize,” or “for the foregoing reasons” unnecessary.
Be aware, however, of local rules placing requirements on the forms of briefs. For example, Illinois rules dictate the form, order, and content of appellate briefs. One requirement is the brief contain “[a] short conclusion stating the precise relief sought.” Ill. S. Ct. R. 341(h)(8). This rule suggests that a “for the foregoing reasons” type of conclusion is necessary. Rules addressing the form of the brief should not be flatly ignored. Dire consequences may result. Recently, an Illinois appellate court dismissed a pro se litigant’s appeal for failure to comply with form rules. Ammar v. Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck, LLP, 2017 IL App (1st) 162931, ¶20. While acknowledging dismissal was a “severe sanction” that it hesitated to impose, the court noted that the “plaintiff’s pro se status does not allow him to claim ignorance of our Supreme Court rules or excuse his noncompliance.” Id. at ¶¶14–15.
Where similar rules govern conclusions, one alternative is to put the substantive, powerful conclusion as a stand-alone paragraph at the end of the argument section. The required conclusion section, itself, should be as short, plain, and direct as possible, such as, “the trial court’s ruling should be affirmed.” There is no need, as a matter of substance or persuasiveness, for the archaic legalese of “for all of the foregoing reasons” or “we respectfully pray that this Honorable Court.” A second alternative is to include the substantive, powerful conclusion in the formal conclusion section and end that section with a similar concise and plain request for relief.
If rules do not allow you to end on your chosen strong note, these alternatives provide potential avenues to keep the momentum built through the brief. While not perfect solutions, they are better than fading out with a largely meaningless prayer that adds nothing and feels like it was drafted in the nineteenth century.