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Effective Reply Briefs in Appellate Practice: Strategic Uses, Best Practices for Drafting

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

The CLE course will provide guidance to appellate lawyers on strategic uses of--and best practices for drafting--reply briefs in appellate practice. The panel will provide insights, explore those best practices, and offer concrete tips for drafting a reply that may resolve a case before, or without the need for, oral argument.


While rules of court seldom require them, carefully drafted reply briefs can be devastatingly effective. But writing effective reply briefs can be one of the most challenging tasks in appellate practice, given tight deadlines, page or word limitations, and daunting opposition briefs.

Given the declining frequency of oral argument and the increase in judges ruling on the briefs in federal court, a strategic and well-crafted reply brief can often be the last word before a judge decides to rule.

Appellate counsel should be familiar with the nuances, techniques, and best practices for structuring and drafting persuasive and compelling reply briefs, such as identifying the key arguments to attack, strategies for stating the issues persuasively, and presenting the arguments clearly and cogently.

Listen as our authoritative panel of appellate practitioners discusses the strategic uses of, and best practices for, drafting effective reply briefs in appellate courts. The panel will provide strategic insights and offer concrete tips for preparing rock-solid reply briefs.



  1. Weighing the strategic use of reply briefs
  2. Identifying the key arguments to brief
  3. Responding to strong (and weak) opposition arguments
  4. Structuring and presenting the response clearly and concisely
  5. Best practices and case studies


The panel will review these and other relevant issues:

  • Identifying and focusing on the primary goals of the appellate reply brief
  • Restating the issues in a persuasive manner
  • Presenting the written argument clearly and concisely with proven persuasive techniques
  • Honing in on the weaknesses in the opponent's position
  • Rebutting the opponent's strongest arguments
  • Exploiting an opponent's common brief-writing mistakes that weaken their position
  • Leveraging judicial preferences to strengthen your client's position


Cooney, Mark
Mark Cooney

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

Prof. Cooney has taught Research & Writing and Advocacy for 16 years. Before teaching, he spent 10 years in private...  |  Read More

Hofmann, Adam
Adam W. Hofmann

Hanson Bridgett

Mr. Hoffman serves as the assistant leader of the firm’s appellate practice group. He represents both public and...  |  Read More

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