Whatever document you’re drafting—from a memorandum for a partner to a brief for the court—using clear and concise headings and subheadings will take your reader by the hand and lead them smoothly through your document. Here’s some advice from noted appellate attorneys Daniel U. Smith and Valerie T. McGinty on making your headings as useful and effective as possible.
Almost all motions and demurrers must be supported by a memorandum. Cal Rules of Ct 3.1113. Your supporting memorandum convinces the judge that the law and facts support the order you want. The objective is to persuade—the memo may be your main shot at doing so, as judges issue a tentative ruling or come to the hearing with a ruling in mind based on the motion and response papers.
Here are the remaining 5 tips from Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division 6. In A Brief Browse on Briefs: Writing Tips from a Judge (part 1) and part 2, we gave the first 10 of 15 writing tips from the judge .
Last week, in A Brief Browse on Briefs: Writing Tips from a Judge (part 1), we gave the first of 5 of 15 writing tips from Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division 6. Here comes — you guessed it — 5 more writing tips gleaned from the judge’s years of experience and reading so many briefs.
Writing briefs — indeed, writing generally — is an area in which most attorneys can use help or at least a refresher. In a recent case, some attorneys learned this the hard way when the judge called their grammatical errors “so egregious and obvious that an average fourth grader would have avoided most of them.” Those attorneys could have used the following brief-writing principles excerpted from an article written for CEB by Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division 6.
Too many lawyers write in a style not persuasive to a busy judge. We learned this unpersuasive style in college and law school — it’s called the academic style. Academic style is marked by mind-numbing details, bloated sentences, and meandering paragraphs. Exactly what you don’t want when writing for a judge.