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How to write a good legal brief

By December 2, 2004Uncategorized

Andy Frey has argued over 60 cases in the United States Supreme Court (including, notably, BMW v. Gore).  And, as I recall, he was mentioned in Lincoln Caplan’s wonderful book The Tenth Justice, which chronicled the Office of the Solicitor General (a/k/a the ‘Tenth Justice’).  Mr. Frey has some wonderful advice about how to write an effective appellate brief.  His article begins thusly:

In theory, every law school graduate should know something about how to write an effective appellate brief. After all, first-year legal writing classes in law school often concentrate on that skill. Moot court competitions do too. Compared to other kinds of legal work, appellate briefs seem tidy and self-contained, with a predictable structure. So they are what law schools teach.

Yes, it is so true.  Law schools love to teach formulaic rules that are (supposedly) easily digestible.  I taught legal research and writing one year (after having clerked for two years and then practiced for another two years) and I was shocked at the rigid adherence to something called ‘the IRAC method’ of writing.  If you don’t know what that is, or have forgotten, then you have managed to overcome the first hurdle in becoming a persuasive legal writer.  Now, go read Andy Frey’s article.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.
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