Mastering the Art of Persuasive Appellate Briefs: Practical Tips From Former Appellate Law Clerks

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

Conducted on Thursday, September 13, 2018

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide counsel with proven techniques for preparing persuasive appellate briefs and avoiding mistakes that can be detrimental to their client’s position. Our panel of former appellate law clerks will discuss the critical components of the appellate brief and provide tips for preparing a strong brief that will win a case before, or without the need for, oral argument.


Writing appellate briefs is a wholly different exercise from preparing briefs at the trial court level. Even the best and most experienced lawyers can falter when preparing an appellate brief because they do not always fully appreciate what an appellate panel expects, wants, or needs. As the first opportunity to present your client’s position, counsel must be able to prepare a strong brief that will focus the panel on the primary issues in the case and offer arguments more persuasively than the opponent.

If counsel seizes the opportunity, they may sway an appellate court’s thinking from the initial submission, leaving little or nothing for the court to question at oral argument. This can mean the difference between winning or losing a case on appeal. Our panel will lead you through developing principal goals for the brief, presenting a robust argument and defeating the opposition.

Listen as our distinguished panel of former law clerks reviews the various nuances and techniques involved in effective appellate brief writing. The panel will cover the key components of the appellate brief and provide case-winning tips for preparing a strong and effective appellate brief.



  1. Stating the issues persuasively
  2. Telling your client’s story with the statement of facts
  3. Spoiler alert: Effective summary of the argument
  4. Structuring and presenting the argument clearly and concisely
  5. Explaining what you want the court to do the conclusion


The panel will review these and other relevant issues:

  • Identifying and focusing on primary goals of the appellate brief
  • Stating the issues in a persuasive manner
  • Addressing less favorable facts with candor while minimizing their impact on the case
  • Presenting the written argument clearly and concisely with proven persuasive techniques
  • Honing in on the weaknesses in the opponent’s position
  • Avoiding common brief-writing mistakes that weaken your client’s position


Cooper, Bennett
Bennett Evan Cooper

Steptoe & Johnson

Author of Federal Appellate Practice: Ninth Circuit (2015-2016 ed.), a 1,500-page treatise published annually, Mr....  |  Read More

Hughey, Rachel
Rachel C. Hughey

Merchant & Gould

As a Co-Chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice, Ms. Hughey is one of the firm’s appellate specialists. She...  |  Read More

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