Tip for appellate lawyers who smoke
U.S. Fifth Circuit: Tab your record excerpts

Don’t boilerplate. Write.

I am no expert in drafting contracts; that expert is Ken Adams. But this post of his resonates with me as a briefwriter. I don’t like boilerplate anything in persuasive writing. Why? Because nobody reads boilerplate. If you have not put any thought into the sentence, if you have not figured out how to make it either informative or persuasive (or better yet, both), then you are wasting ink, paper, pixels, etc.

The only formulaic things in your brief should be things like certificates of service and of compliance with the rules, and the verification in a writ application. Even those should be written in plain English; and you should check the rules to see whether they’re necessary. Everything else must either inform or persuade or both. This rule includes things that many lawyers boilerplate, such as the jurisdictional statement and the statement regarding oral argument. It definitely includes the standard of review. This means that nothing, NOTHING in your brief should be a cut-and-paste job.


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