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There is no shortage of information easily available on the Internet designed to help law students prepare legal briefs, and there is a large degree of standardization involved in how legal briefs are generally constructed. While templates exist in abundance, and links to three useful examples are provided below, individual judges may have preferences with respect to how legal briefs submitted to them are prepared. For this reason, it is advisable that lawyers, clerks, and law school students consult the individual court for information on formatting and use of citations. In this age of ubiquitous organizational websites, even many courts maintain Internet pages intended to guide legal staffs in the procedures that should be used for those particular courts. Failure to consult each individual court for such information can result in an otherwise painstakingly prepared brief being given less consideration than would otherwise be the case. Judges are human beings, and each brings his or her own idiosyncrasies to the bench. Being cognizant of the preferences of each judge is more than a little important when arguing before that judge, including in the preparation of legal briefs.
As noted, there is a great degree of standardization involved in formatting a legal brief. Of the three examples provided below, this educator prefers the Westlaw website’s option for its conciseness and clarity. The lexisnexis website provides a more in-depth (read: lengthier) lesson in formatting and filling out a legal brief. The template provided in the “http://law.sc.edu/lraw/assignment.pdf” site is also very useful for its display of both formatting structure and sample content. As these examples illustrate, the brief, as the name suggests, should be no longer than absolutely necessary, and should contain in as concise a form as possible the relevant legal citations, facts, case history, the issue or question being addressed, the reasoning supporting the legal motion, and the significance of the case and/or additional comments directly relevant to the case.
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