Appellate Advocacy: From Cover to Content: Ten 21st Century Tips for Effective Appellate Briefing

Whether a lawyer has been writing appellate briefs for five years or five decades, a tune-up cannot hurt. Daniel Monnat and Paige Nichols offer 10 rules in hopes of inspiring appellate practitioners to revisit what they already know and breathe new life into their appellate briefs. Monnat and Nichols recommend that lawyers set a briefing time to avoid a last-minute panicked race against the appellate clock. Counsel should set separate deadlines for reviewing the record, researching and outlining the arguments, drafting the brief, and editing. If the writing is bad, judges will not have confidence in the substance of the brief. Moreover, the authors point out that if the lawyer’s tight, compelling brief does not comply with the appellate court’s rules, it is not going to get in the door.