Law should seek personal liberty. ABA asked: How would you #ChangeTheLawIn5Words?
Illinoisappellatelawyerblog was born to worry. And opinions like Estate of York feed that congenital behavior.
The First District Illinois Appellate Court woke us to attention with its first words. “The case before us serves as a cautionary tale to litigants to adhere to Illinois Supreme Court Rule appellate filing deadlines, to timely file requests for extensions of time with good cause shown, and to specify all grounds of appeal in the notice of appeal.”
Dread always follows that kind of lead. Here’s what happened.
We are nothing if not current.
An article published in 2003 about effective subheadings, available here for the clicking, was referenced at the top of a “legal writing” Google search I just did. Authors Kara Thompson and Zach Brez for the Writing Center at the Georgetown University Law Center, did a fine job in this short piece explaining the importance of the “point heading.” (Except please don’t make subheads all caps; typical sentence style, boldfaced, is better.)
Don’t be lazy about drafting the subheadings. Sometimes they will be the most important part of your brief.
The Appellate Lawyer Representatives’ Ninth Circuit Practice Guide is available for the downloading from the Ninth Circuit’s web site. It’s a how-to for preparing and filing a brief in the federal appellate court out yonder in California. But it’s chock full of good tips no matter what jurisdiction you find yourself in.
You’ll want to look at the Top Technical Flaws In Briefs. Some of these are more than just technical. Don’t make one of these head-shaking mistakes.
Peggy Lee Hall claimed she was injured when she slipped on ice in a parking lot owned by Naper Gold Hospitality LLC. She sued Naper, but the company got summary judgment because Hall did not show facts that there had been an unnatural accumulation of ice.
Hall appealed Naper’s summary judgment. But the Second District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the appeal “because of the flagrant and, frankly, appalling violations of supreme court rules committed by plaintiff’s [Hall] attorney … and his law firm … in the handling of this appeal.”
These were Hall’s violations:
These two tips are from Ross Guberman, the president of Legal Writing Pro and the author of Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates. Ross also is an Appellatology panelist. His short bio is here.
These Two Tips, with examples, are drawn from the brief for the states signed by Paul Clement in the “Obamacare” case.
Always thinking about you and devising unique reading and viewing experiences for our audience, Illinois Appellate Lawyer Blog announces a new series:
♪♪♪ Two Tips ♪♪♪
Two Tips, offered by legal writing and strategy experts, will suggest ways you can improve your brief writing. The tips will be in various formats – written, podcast, video, extra sensory perception, Vulcan mind meld.
Guilty as charged. We’re obsessed with good writing and engrossed by lucid argument. Superior writing plus absorbing argument gives us the Ahhhhh of the first cup of morning coffee.
Appellatology is great legal thinkers and writers devoted to helping lawyers write better briefs.
How do we do it? Our panel of mock judges ― senior lawyers, scholars, retired judges, and legal writing experts ― analyzes your draft and confers with you and other mock judges, and tells you how to improve it. We answer your questions, discuss your issues, and give you our independent evaluations. And it’s all done online without the hassle, cost, and expense of leaving your office.
We continue with Part 2 of author and legal-writing expert Ross Guberman’s insights into drafting appellate briefs. In case you missed it, here’s Part 1. And here is a link to my review of Ross’s book, Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates.
What is the role of case law precedent in a well-written appellate brief?
Judge Posner suggests in his book How Judges Think that most litigators overestimate the importance of case law and underestimate the pragmatic advantage of making the court feel like it is doing the right thing, or at least that following the case law makes sense.