1. Know the standard of review, and clearly state it in the brief; then apply it. Making arguments using a de novo standard of review is not productive when the standard of review is clear error, for example. The standard of review is the lens through which the court evaluates a case. It is important to understand it in brief writing.
  2. Carefully select your issues. Pick your best issues and, while keeping the standards of review in mind, consider your best legal, as opposed to factual, issues. Taking a “shotgun” approach to discussing issues is not productive, as it detracts from the primary points that you are trying to make.
  3. Write clearly. Sentences should be clear, concise, persuasive, short, and written in active voice. Avoid repetition.
  4. Make use of headings and subheadings. These headings are used as signposts for the reader. Avoid making them too long and avoid becoming argumentative in them.
  5. Use the facts section to your advantage. While acknowledging bad facts is important, it is also important to use the facts section to paint the picture of the case in a way that is most favorable to your side. Avoid arguing in the facts section; keep it as objective as possible.