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 10, 2020

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide counsel with sturdy techniques for writing compelling appellate briefs, identify common mistakes that routinely lead to poor results, and provide a glimpse into how appellate judges read briefs. Appellate courts usually require briefs to be structured in a specific way, and our panel of former appellate law clerks will explore the nuances of each section, providing tips for preparing a persuasive brief that may win a case before, or without the need for, oral argument.


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. Writing briefs for appellate review is wholly different from writing briefs for a trial court. Appellate courts do not decide issues the same way as trial judges, and counsel has one and only one chance to educate the court about the client's case.

An effective appellate brief makes a strong and hopefully decisive first impression that focuses the panel on the issues that make a difference in the case and are effectively persuasive in the client's favor.

Ideally, the winning brief leaves 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 making the court want to decide for the client.

Listen as our distinguished panel of former law clerks reviews what the effective appellate brief is and offers techniques for producing it. The panel will cover the critical components of the appellate brief and provide case-winning tips for preparing an appellate brief that delivers results.



  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 in 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

Dickinson Wright

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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