The Winning Brief

100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts

Tips 26-41

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Bryan Garner

This famous seminar, designed specifically for litigators, consists of 100 trial and appellate writing tips, each illustrated with good and bad examples actually filed in courts throughout the country. This on-demand version allows you to view or re-view the points you need to work on most. Both the class and its 516-page coursebook (now in its second edition published by Oxford University Press) are full of pointers that even the most accomplished brief-writers find useful. To take this on-demand course, you must first acquire the book (readily available from booksellers such as to follow the lectures. You'll learn how to: Plan briefing projects for maximal efficiency — whatever the time constraints. Capture a judge's imagination within the first few words. Avoid the mind-numbing conventions that make so many briefs boring. Meet page limits with greater ease. Counteract the exaggerated style of Rambo opponents. Persuade judicial readers more reliably.

It's fair to say that there are few things you could do to advance your clients' litigation interests—and to advance your own career—than to master the advice that Bryan Garner gives here.

Tips 26–41:

  1. Banish legalese.
  2. Avoid unnecessary detail.
  3. Call people by name.
  4. Avoid is, are, was, and were.
  5. Minimize passive voice.
  6. Uncover buried verbs.
  7. Given the choice, prefer passive voice to buried verbs.
  8. Beware prepositions.
  9. Avoid subject–verb separation.
  10. Avoid verb–object separation.
  11. End sentences with punch.
  12. Avoid there is & there are.
  13. No throat-clearing.
  14. Cut, cut, cut.
  15. Combine sentences if that's economical.
  16. Use parallelism.

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