Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P. S.

Writing the Brief

  1. The brief is the most important part of the appeal.
  2. Use the most current law possible.
  3. Follow the RAP format. See : RAP 10.3 and 10.4; and RAP Forms 5 and 6.
  4. A few ideas about brief writing:
  1. It is not required, but consider including a separate section discussing the applicable standard of review.
  2. Keep it simple, use as few case cites as possible.
  3. Hit adverse arguments head on. Assume that the appellate court will discover adverse authority and address it directly in your brief.
  4. Do not cite unpublished opinions. RAP 10.4(h).
  5. Do not overstate your authority or the facts of the case, as you will lose credibility.
  6. Consider having another attorney or at least your client read and critique the brief prior to submission.
  7. Do not personally attack the other side or the other side’s attorney. This is a big turnoff.
  8. Use the table of contents as an outline to tell the story or emphasize your major points.
  9. Avoid elegant variation. Consistently use the same name to refer to the same thing or person.
  10. Consider drafting the brief “out of order.” Sometimes it’s easier to write the brief if you start with the argument section and then write the facts and introduction last. Other times, it’s easier to start with the issues or assignments of error.
  11. Provide a separate assignment of error for each finding of fact or jury instruction. See: RAP 10.3(g). Each challenged finding or jury instruction must be set forth verbatim in the brief or in an appendix. RAP 10.4(c).
  12. Complete copies of challenged statutes must be set forth in the brief or in an appendix. RAP 10.4(c).
  13. Consider adding page numbers to your appendix for easier reference; cross index them to your table of contents.
  14. Try to make your client “likable.”
  15. Volunteer bad facts early, for example, "the appellant is a functional alcoholic."
  16. If you are the respondent, remember to include a discussion of your “affirmative defenses,” e.g. , invited error, new theory or no objection below.