The Nuts and Bolts: Elements of a Legal Brief
Every standard brief has a few basic elements:
- An introduction that articulates the party’s claim and introduces the party’s theory of the case and the procedural history of the case.
- A table of authorities (TOA) section that describes all sources of legal authority used in the brief. While it used to be a tedious and time-consuming task to compile a TOA, the table of authorities builder within Thomson Reuters Drafting Assistant software makes it a snap.
- A statement of facts that sets forth all of the key factual elements a court should use in making its decision. In this section, it’s important to use simple, clear, and persuasive language to lay out the facts and procedural elements of the case and avoid using conclusory statements.
- An argument section that sets forth your arguments of law. In this section, you’ll want to address each legal question denoting each one with a different label called a “point heading.” Point headings should be clearly written to parse out the exact legal issue and should generally be limited to a single sentence.
- A conclusion that summarizes the key points of the brief and requests specific relief. You may even want to write this section first to help focus your thoughts. Forcing yourself to think of the whole of the case in concise terms early can help you concisely draft your Argument section.
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