Today I started working on an application to the court of appeal for a supervisory writ, and was reminded of my # 1 tip for this task: the first thing you do—before you write a word—is assemble the attachments. Uniform Rule 4-5 lists the attachments that must be included. I like to put them all together and give them provisional page numbers before I start writing the application itself, starting with A1, A2, etc. If your attachments are in PDF (if they’re not, they should be), putting them together and page-numbering them is a snap with Adobe Acrobat or other PDF-handling software.
Assembling the appendix on the front end has at least two advantages. First, when you draft the writ application, you can include pinpoint citations to items in the appendix. Second, you find out immediately if you’re missing something that you need (such as the hearing transcript).
There is one little hitch to my system: Uniform Rule 4-5(B) requires all pages of the application, including the application itself and all attachments, to be consecutively numbered. And if you don’t know how long the application itself will be until you write it, you don’t know until the end of the process the number of the first page of the attachments. But this problem is easy to solve. Once the application is in almost-final form, you know how long it will be. If it’s 25 pages, you know that the number of the first page of attachments will be 26. So when I’m finalizing, say, a 25-page application, I just add 25 to all my “An” citations to the attachments and remove the “A”. A1 becomes 26, A2 becomes 27, etc. Is this time-consuming? A bit. But not nearly as time-consuming as trying to fill in totally blank citations to the attachments.
Which leads to another tip: when, in writing a writ application, you cite one of the attachments, cite it by its consecutive-page number. If it’s a multi-volume writ application, cite by volume and page number. Example: “See writ app. vol. 2 p. 301.” Your job as the writer is to make it as easy as possible for the reader to locate what you’re citing. So give the reader the information needed to instantly locate whatever it is you’re citing.