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Garner's Guide to Making Briefs More Persuasive: Tip 6 - Arrange your points from most to least

Here's another tip from Bryan A. Garner's The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts.

Make sure that your brief has a recognizable form - don't let it begin or end out of nowhere. The points in a brief should be placed in descending importance in order to increase the chance that the most important points will be read carefully. The points should be ordered before writing begins.

Develop each point by doing the following:

1. State the legal premise.

2. Demonstrate how the facts fit with this premise.

3. Address arguments against your position.

4. Drive the point home with an additional reason.

It's advisable to take notes on case law in your own words, rather than simply highlighting relevant passages. The notes should follow a systematic pattern, with sections for the facts; the question in the case; the holding; and the court's reasoning.

Always, confirm that any controlling authorities have been cited. Garner notes that Magistrate Judge William H. Baughham, Jr. of Cleveland told him that lawyers frequently fail to cite decisions of appellate courts which have clearly addressed the subject of their brief.

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