University of Wisconsin–Madison

Briefs and More Briefs

Last month's article introduced The Winning Brief : 100 tips for persuasive briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts.  Today's feature will be a short introduction to three more titles in the library's collection you may find useful toward mastering the twin arts of writing great briefs and effective oral advocacy.

1) Just Briefs, by Laurel Currie Oates et al., (2nd ed. 2008).  Call number : Circulation Desk KF251 O18 2008.  The first edition is available in the library stacks at: KF251 O18 2003.

This relatively short title seems to be popular with students.  Designed to be a practical handbook with examples the authors provide a focused, step-by-step approach to writing briefs.  Chapter 1 covers "Writing a Trial Brief" w/sample briefs.  Chapter 2 covers "Writing an Appellate Brief" w/sample briefs.  Chapter 3 covers the topic of "Oral Advocacy."

2) Brief Writing & Oral Argument, by Edward D. Re and Joseph R. Re (8th ed. 1999).  Call number : Circulation Desk KF251 R4 1999 (2 copies).  Earlier editions are available in the library stacks at the same base Call number: KF251 R4 (year).

This title has long been a classic, written by Judge Edward D. Re, who has decades of experience as a trial judge at the U.S. Court of Appeals level.  Since the book's first edition, its purpose has been to set forth "fundamental principles underlying an effective brief and a convincing oral argument."

The text covers the research, structure, and writing of trial and appellate briefs, as well as, respondent and reply briefs.  Part Four will assist you in the preparation and presentation of oral argument.  The Appendices provide examples of: 1) briefs to state and federal courts of appeals, 2) a sample Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, and 3) the form for a claim or demand letter, an opinion letter, and a trial memorandum.

3) Persuasive Written and Oral Advocacy in Trial and Appellate Courts, by Michael R. Fontham and Michael Vitiello 3rd edition 2013).  Call number : Circulation Desk KF251 F658 2013.  The second edition is also at the Circulation Desk, ask for Call number: KF251 F658 2007.  The first edition is in the library stacks at: KF251 F658 2002.

A thorough and practical text in four parts: Part 1. Persuasive Legal Writing - Part 2. Oral Argument - Part 3. Trial Proceedings - Part 4. Handling Appeals and Writs.  Each Part is composed of Chapters like "Applying the Standard of Review" followed by discreet sections such as the "Ten Essentials" of a good oral argument, while other topics such as "Prerequisites for Review of Appeal" encompass several sections.  There are examples of an Appellate Brief, and a Petition for Certiorari.

This particular title also comes with four companion volumes called "Case Files."  The purpose is to show student the different types of documents that might be filed between parties and the court during the course of a case.  They also highlight the legal issues that may be involved such as personal jurisdiction, service of process, freedom of speech, vicarious liability for intentional tort, testimonial privilege, subject matter jurisdiction, due process and equal protection just to mention a few.  With this in mind, they serve as a teaching tool for practicing written and oral advocacy in a realistic manner.  Each of these "Case Files" are also available at the Circulation Desk at Call number: KF251 F6582.

Finally, if you'd like to read some really serious briefs take a look at Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States: Constitutional Law.  You'll find this set on the Fourth Floor, East Wing, stack 15.  If print isn't your thing, the American Bar Association's Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases has briefs online going back to the 2003-2004 Term.

Submitted by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian on October 12, 2015

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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