Writing Appellate Briefs

Jay O’Keeffe has written a nice article about appellate brief writing on DeNovo:  A Virginia Appellate Law Blog. 

The article is titled " 10 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Brief."   Here is an excerpt:

1. Take shortcuts. Here’s how you write a brief: brainstorm, research, brainstorm, outline, draft, revise, cite check. Skipping any of these steps to save time will backfire. If you don’t outline, it will take you twice as long to write, and your brief will likely be poorly structured and repetitive. If you don’t brainstorm, then you may miss a key point. If you don’t cite-check, you will be embarrassed sooner or later. And if you don’t research or revise, then may God have mercy on your soul. 

I have an addition to his list. 

11.  Ignore the Rules of Court:  Courts have rules for appellate briefs.  The rules not only include such matters as font size and page limitations but also requirements for citations to the record and citations to relevant authority.  Ignore these rules at your peril.  Courts are known to have ignored issues raised in a brief and even fined lawyers who fail to follow rules of procedure.