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The Seven Commandments of Writing a Winning Appellate Brief

An appellate brief plays a crucial role in the appellate process. It provides a comprehensive summary of what occurred at the trial. Also, it helps in persuading the appellate court of the client’s position. Writing a winning appellate brief takes weeks or even months, but a well-researched and persuasive brief can help tip the scales in your favor.

This guide lists the tips to help you and your appellate attorney write a winning brief.

1. Know Your Reader

A panel of three judges hears most appellate cases, and appellate judges have a different mindset than attorneys or trial judges. It can help to put yourself in the shoes of the appellate judge and focus on the information they need to hear. Also, remember that the judge isn’t the only one who will be reading your brief. Their team of research attorneys will likely go through the brief and update the judge. So, your brief should appeal to this team as well.

2. Brevity Is Your Friend

They’re called briefs for a reason and should be kept as short as possible. Be direct, and persuasive, and explain why the judge should rule in your favor. Make it easy for the judge to arrive at a favorable conclusion by keeping your arguments to the point.

3. Capture Your Points with a Story

Use narrative storytelling techniques to make the brief engaging and add life to your case. Instead of just reciting dry facts, it should appeal to the reader’s emotion. Include photos and other visual elements to make your story real and appealing.

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4. Deal Proactively with Bad News

If any facts harm your case, it’s better to address them proactively instead of waiting for the opponent to raise it in court. If you don’t address these facts, it may appear that you are trying to hide something. Despite these adverse facts, present the points in the brief and explain why the judge should rule in your favor.

5. Explain Why You Should Win

One of the main things that an appellate judge wants to know is why you think you should win the appeal. The brief must contain a clear and direct answer to this question, with adequate proof that encourages the judge to rule in your favor. The final paragraph of the brief should state the specific relief you hope to achieve with the appeal.

6. Provide Legal Support

You can cite other cases that are related to your issue. But, make sure that you don’t make it too lengthy. Keep footnotes and citations to a minimum, and don’t include extensive resources that are not relevant to your case.

7. Review and Edit It Multiple Times

Once you have written the brief, set it aside for a time. Review and edit it later with fresh eyes to spot any errors. Ensure to verify your citation formats and sources so that it’s acceptable in the appellate court. Run a spelling check, look for grammatical errors, and proofread it multiple times before submitting it in court.

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Writing a Winning Appellate Brief Is Not a Matter of Luck

It takes dedication, experience, and hard work to write briefs that turn the tide in your favor. If you are looking for the best appeals lawyer in Florida, reach out to Brownstone Law. With years of experience in appellate practice, we can maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.

Federal Appeal Lawyers In Antitrust
Author Name
Robert L Sirianni
(888) 233-8895
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