5 Aspects Of A Well-Written Legal Brief
- It Is Clear
- It Contains The Essentials
- The Argument Is Solid
- Any Cited Legal Cases Are Still Relevant
- It Has Been Reviewed And Approved By An Attorney
One critical concept to understand as a legal professional are the qualities of a solidly written legal brief. Paralegals have been increasingly called upon to draft these important legal documents and therefore need to understand how to do so properly. The following are what goes into making a quality legal brief.
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1. It Is Clear
Legal language so dense it is almost indiscernible is starting to fall out of favor. Clients and legal professionals alike are turning toward simpler language that nonetheless still addresses all details and covers all contingencies. A well-written legal brief should be clear and easy to understand. It should state the nature of the case and the arguments on behalf of the client concisely.
2. It Contains The Essentials
Legal briefs have certain sections that are generally accepted as being key components of the document. According to LexisNexis, these sections are the facts, the issues, the holding, and the rationale. Facts are, perhaps obviously, the undisputed facts of the case while the issues section outlines what, exactly, is in dispute. The holding and rationale sections then state the client’s case and the laws supporting it. These essential sections make up a strong, standard legal brief.
3. The Argument Is Solid
Because a legal brief is essentially a summary of a client’s case, the document, therefore, needs to logically argue that case. A quality argument is perhaps the most important aspect of a solidly written legal brief. This is of course very subjective and will be different for every case. The responsibility of paralegals and attorneys is to look at existing laws and legal decisions and use those to find an angle and argue a case for their client. Legal professionals also need to be able to foresee what the opposing arguments will be to successfully defend against them.
4. Any Cited Legal Cases Are Still Relevant
Attorneys and paralegals often reuse phrases, sentences or even entire sections of a previous legal brief from a similar case. This is absolutely fine and is a common practice. However, it is important to check any cited legal cases to make sure they are still relevant. In the world of law, court precedent and previous rulings get overturned with relative frequency. A reference to an outdated case in an argument harms both the quality of the brief and the client’s case. Paralegals and attorneys alike are careful to check for any oversights like these.
5. It Has Been Reviewed And Approved By An Attorney
Paralegals are not attorneys and are not allowed to represent clients in court, give legal advice or break other restrictions. All of their work is done under and supervised by a licensed attorney, which includes the drafting of legal briefs. A final quality of a solidly written legal brief is that it has been reviewed and approved by a paralegal’s supervising attorney. While the paralegal is responsible for ensuring the brief does not contain any typos, flawed arguments or other mistakes, an attorney needs to look it over with their trained eye. Once it has been given approval by an attorney, the brief is ready to be filed in court.
A well-written legal brief is part art and part science. It takes a trained legal professional with some practice to write a good one. They are certain to include the key qualities of a solidly written legal brief.