University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Winning Brief : 100 tips for persuasive briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts

Students and scholars of law all have much to learn from Bryan A. Garner.  Many of you will already know him as the Editor in Chief of the modern Black's Law Dictionary.  This alone makes him a virtual wordsmith, but he doesn't stop there having written numerous books on legal writing and style.  In Garner's view, "good writing is good thinking put to paper."

His book, The Winning Brief : 100 tips for persuasive briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts, is one of those that may help you master the logic and reasoning behind the art of writing great briefs.  A few of his 100 tips are listed here:

     Tip Number 1, of course, is "Know thy reader."

     Tip Number 5 "Before writing in earnest, frame your issue statements and point headings."

     Tip Number 18 "Highlight the reasons for the conclusion you're urging."

     Tip Number 24 "Put citations - not substance - in footnotes.  Identify your authority in the text."

     Tips 32 and 39 "Slash unnecessary words" and "Eliminate throat-clearing phrases."

     Tip Number 71 "Never misstate the facts or the law."

     Tip Number 72 "Answer your opponents arguments - and flay them if possible."

     Tip Number 81 "State the facts dispassionately and chronologically.  Never editorialize."

     Tip Number 95 "In an appellate brief, build the standard of review into the argument."

     Tip Number 98 "State squarely what you want the court's order to say."

     Tip Number 100 "Remember the importance of ethos."

Each chapter covers a "Tip" and begins with "Quotable Quotes" by other notable wordsmiths meant to bring home the "Tip's" meaning.  An "Explanation" with "Examples" follow to demonstrate how the tip's proposition should work in practice.  Finally, each chapter ends with a "Summary Checklist" to keep your work on track.

Where necessary the text is illustrated, and includes three Appendixes to advance your skills: 1) A before-and-after makeover of a motion to dismiss; 2) A petition for discretionary review; and 3) A remarkable appellee's brief.

The third edition (2014) of this title is available on Reserve behind the Circulation Desk at call number: KF251 G37 2014.

The first and second editions (1999 and 2004, respectively) are in the library stacks at: KF251 G37 1999, and KF251 G37 2004.

Submitted by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian on September 9, 2015

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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