Brief writing: a student's view
One of my students interned at a court last summer and spent a lot of time reading and checking on briefs. She then wrote this advice. I couldn't have said these better, so here they are:
My intern partner and I came up with a few rules for brief writers based on our reading experience:
- Always read through your work. If you have a typo on the first page that spell check would have caught, you are already behind in the count.
- You think colorful language adds flair, but the interns think you're being ridiculous. One morning we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the meaning of "Kafkaesque conundrum," which perhaps shows that our vocabulary is lacking, but also suggests that if no one in a room full of law students knows the term off the top of his head, it probably shouldn't be used.
- ALWAYS use pinpoint citations. The reader does not look favorably on the proposition you're attempting to support if that reader has to sift through the case to try to find where it might support your proposition. In fact, while looking for the cited proposition, the reader might find something that is damning to your client and use your case for that proposition instead.