What section of a brief is most critical to persuading the court to rule in your client’s favor? Although most lawyers believe that the argument section fulfills that role, many legal writing experts disagree, maintaining instead that the statement of facts is the most important part of a brief. As Brian Foley and Ruth Anne Robbins explain in Fiction 101: a Primer for Lawyers on How to Use Fiction Writing Techniques to Write Persuasive Facts Sections,
We take it as a given that the facts section is the most important part of the brief for persuading judges. The reason is that most judges are moved more by fairness, common sense and compassion to help a person who has been wronged, than by clever legal analysis. The facts section, not the argument section, appeals to judges on this level and, thus, exerts a profound influence on how they decide cases.
In my experience, most lawyers give the facts section short shrift when drafting briefs. Here are three tips for making your statement of facts more persuasive:
- Include only relevant facts. Facts that aren’t relevant to your argument distract the court from the facts that are relevant.
- Use storytelling techniques to boost the facts section’s persuasive force. You can read about many of these techniques in The Source’s April 2012 issue.
- Demonstrate your credibility by including accurate citations to the supporting evidence. The judge must be able to verify the accuracy of the facts set forth your brief. If you don’t tell the judge where to look, the judge isn’t going to do your job for you, and may even comment on your sub-par brief-writing skills in its opinion.