Brief-writing Tips from Judge Greenaway

Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., of the Third Circuit

Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr.

Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., of the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals has recorded some of his thoughts on brief writing. His theme is that appellate briefs are too often written like boring fact pieces and not engaging op-ed pieces. Judge Greenaway argued that the brief should be like an op-ed piece which states a point of view, employs supporting facts, and ultimately persuades the reader to agree.

Judge Greenaway then offered five tips on what to do and six tips on what not to do.

Tips on How to Write Briefs on Appeal

Judge Greenaway’s five tips to persuade:

  • Tell an engaging story in the Fact Statement.
  • Set priorities in the Summary of Argument.
  • Create a precis in the Table of Contents by using complete sentences and clear headings.
  • Start with best arguments to start and finish strong.
  • Master the record.

Tips on What Not to Do in Writing Briefs on Appeal

He then commented on brief-writing errors:

  • Use inaccurate citation form, grammar, and spelling.
  • Miscite the record and the case law.
  • Throw in the kitchen sink without conceding anything.
  • Avoid adverse authority.
  • Overuse string cites and, when used, don’t add parentheticals and quotes
  • Rehash arguments in the Reply Brief

Earlier posts emphasized some of these same tips, including

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