A Simple Tip – Begin by Editing.
Posted on November 14, 2013
Perhaps there are appellate lawyers who are able to write a complete draft of a brief from beginning to end, then spend some time editing, and finish with a well written a polished appeal brief. However, I’m not one of them. My first draft of writing the argument on an issue is not always great and getting to great can be a lengthy process. So the tip I offer is to use the approach I follow. Begin the day by editing what you wrote the day before (and, subsequently, the entire draft of the brief to that point).
If you edit the draft of your brief at the beginning of the day, your mind is fresh and able to clearly read what you’ve written. You should be able to catch typographic errors, poor sentence structure, and otherwise think of better ways to make the points you tried to make the day before. You’ll think of snappier wording and more concise expression, removing redundancies. The editing also tends to help the creative juices of writing flow so that there is less writer’s block as you move on to write additional pages new material in the brief.
If you use this process day after day as you work on a large briefing project, the natural consequence is that the first pages of the brief will have been edited more times than its latter pages. This is not a problem; it’s a good thing. The first part of your brief needs to be its strongest part. It needs to be best written, with arguments honed to a razor’s sharpness. If it isn’t, the reader of the brief, whether it be judge or law clerk, may not venture to the latter pages. So, take my advice, and begin each day by editing all you’ve written previously, sharpening the draft little by little and day after day until you have a winning product.
If you feel you may need help with writing an appellate brief, or just have a question about appellate practice, feel free to contact me through the web site for my freelance legal writing service, Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq., found either through clicking the logo on this page or via this link, www.appealsandbriefs.com.