How to Write a Legal Brief the Right Way
A legal brief is a staple of the legal world, the backbone of any argument before a court. At the same time, sometimes, they are about as exciting to read as the manual for a 2002 fax machine. But what if there were a way to infuse your legal brief with just the right amount of pizzazz while retaining its rock-solid argumentation? We have some good news for you: There is!
Now, let’s go ahead and journey through the magical realm of legal brief writing.
Start With a Killer Hook
Before diving deep into the legal nitty-gritty, grab your reader’s attention. Whether it is a compelling fact, a poignant story, or a stirring quote, that first line should make the judge sit up and think, “Oh, this is going to be good.” In turn, this will make the audience read through the entire brief.
Write for Your Audience
Yes, the judge or panel of judges is your primary audience, but they are humans too. Picture them at the end of a long day, wading through the tenth brief on their desk. Your job? Make their reading experience smooth and engaging. Simplify complex arguments, avoid legalese when possible, and be concise.
Structure Is Your Best Friend
Remember those five-paragraph essays from school? It’s time to bring that structure back – but on a more sophisticated level. Start with an introduction, present your arguments, and conclude. Thus, each section should flow naturally to the next.
Say No to Information Overload
While you might be tempted to include every single case, statute, or legal precedent you can find, restraint is crucial. Highlight the most relevant information that directly supports your argument. Quality over quantity, always.
Make Your Point, Then Move On
Repetition is the death of interest. Sure, you want to emphasize a point. But say it once, say it well and then proceed. Hammering a point home can come across as unsure or desperate.
Engage With Counterarguments
Let’s be real. No argument is bulletproof. Instead of avoiding opposing views, engage with them. By addressing counterarguments, you showcase a deep understanding of the issue and boost your credibility.
Use the Power of Storytelling
Humans are hardwired to love stories. Instead of just presenting cold, hard facts, weave them into a narrative. Share the story of the litigants, explain the broader implications of the decision, or provide context that adds depth.
Visual Aids Are A-Okay
Who said legal briefs have to be walls of text? Flowcharts, diagrams, or infographics can break the monotony and clarify complex points. A picture can, indeed, be worth a thousand words (or at least worth a few dozen in a legal brief).
Proofread, Then Proofread Again
Typos, grammatical errors, or incorrect citations can undermine even the most compelling arguments. They divert attention and can even damage your credibility. So, review your brief, have a colleague look at it, then review it again.
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