Text beneath point headings
A reader asks--
In a brief with numbered point headings, should the text immediately after each point heading summarize the point made in that section of the brief, even if it is just a restatement of the point heading in slightly different form? Or should you start the text following a numbered point heading as if the heading itself is the topic sentence of the next paragraph?I consulted my colleagues, who are experienced teachers of legal writing and who include two former federal judicial clerks, and they all said the same thing, with which I agree:
Make the first sentence beneath a point heading an appropriate topic sentence; do not rely on the point heading itself as a sort of topic sentence. Even if doing it this way makes you feel that you're being redundant, that's fine.
We think that judges and their clerks, not to mention legal-writing teachers, often read the point headings in the table of contents to get a sense of the issues and arguments. Then when they (and we) read the argument section, they skip the point headings.