Garner's Guide to Making Briefs More Persuasive: Tip 10 - Revise. Then proof carefully.


Garner cites several law journal articles and books published by judges and others, in order to make clear that briefs submitted by attorneys often include errors (such mistakes in grammar or simply a 'jerky' style) which can only be detected by proofreading carefully and often. The attorney will ultimately be held responsible for any unintentional mistakes. Every attorney should assume that his or her brief contains some mistakes. Take these steps to find them:

1. Begin by checking for mistakes in substance. It is not unusual for a brief to contain contradictory assertions.

2. A brief should not be merely edited line by line. It should be re-written.

3. Confirm that the central point is clearly conveyed by the brief.

4. Confirm that all counter arguments have been addressed.

5. Verify that one argument made in the brief leads to the second and each successive argument.

6. Consider if an analogy could be useful for any of the arguments.

7. Make sure the brief has an appropriate tone.

8. Make several passes: once for punctuation; once for formatting; once for transitions; once to confirm the headings are consistent.

9. Triple-check citations and cross references.

10. Inconsistencies can be detected by reading a brief backwards.


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