As you probably know, databases such as Westlaw often contain not just reported decisions in cases, but also the briefs filed in those cases. I’ve sometimes downloaded those briefs as research tools, just to see whether they lead to authorities that I hadn’t already found. Today, it occurred to me that those briefs can serve another purpose: as examples of what to do—or what not to do.
Let’s say that, in a pertinent case, the opinion writer said that she was convinced or not convinced by an argument in a party’s brief. If the brief is available online, download it to analyze the argument. Find out exactly what the briefwriter did that either worked or didn’t work. And put that knowledge to work in formulating your own arguments.