Mastering the Art of Writing Persuasive Appellate Briefs: Practical Tips from Past Appellate Law Clerks

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

Conducted on Wednesday, September 7, 2016

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 your client’s position. Our panel of former appellate law clerks will discuss the key components of the appellate brief and provide tips for preparing a strong brief that will win your case prior to, or without the need for, oral argument.


Writing appellate briefs is a wholly different exercise from trial court level. Even the best and most experienced lawyers can falter when preparing an appellate brief because they don’t always fully appreciate what the appellate panel expects. 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 most important issues in the case and present the arguments in a manner that is more persuasive than the opponent.

If the opportunity is seized effectively, counsel may sway an appellate court’s thinking from the initial submission, leaving little or nothing for the court to question at oral argument which can mean the difference between winning or losing a case on appeal. Our panel will lead you through developing key goals for the brief, presenting a strong effective argument and defeating the opposition’s position.

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 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. Presenting the argument clearly and concisely
  5. Leaving a lasting impression with the conclusion


The panel will review these and other key 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 the impact on the case
  • Honing in on the weaknesses in the opponent’s position
  • Presenting the written argument clearly and concisely with proven techniques of persuasion
  • 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...  |  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

Additional faculty
to be announced.

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