You heard it in law school: it’s important to include a well-written brief with every motion. But why? Is it really worth the time and effort to write the brief when you can just argue the motion yourself at hearing? Here are 3 reasons why you should take your professors’ advice.
1. Framing the Issue
How you frame a question can help sway the decision maker’s answer. For example, in determining child support, one party may want the question to be “How much should an unemployed person be expected to earn in this economy.” The other might say “Should the father be punished because the mother voluntarily quit her job?” By taking the time to craft a brief around your version of the issue, you can control the direction of the hearing even before stepping into the courthouse.
2. Prepping the Judge
On many motions, complex facts or intricate legal circumstances can make the difference between success and failure. If there is some distinction that wins the argument for your side, you want the judge to be aware of it ahead of time. In the above example, the father wants the judge to know the circumstances of the mother’s job loss. The mother wants the judge to know all about her income and monthly budget. Use the brief to prepare the judge so that he or she knows what to listen for at the hearing.
3. Prepare for the Hearing
Even if you have a judge with a reputation for not reading briefs, it is still worth your while to prepare one. Why? Because it will better prepare you for your argument. By researching the competing legal theories and preparing your arguments in advance you will be ready to deal with the other side’s arguments on motion call. The brief will put the answers to the judge’s questions at your fingertips when you are at the podium.
A well-written brief is the strongest tool in your toolbox on motion day. It puts the judge in the right state of mind going in, and gives you everything you need to make a convincing argument. The time it takes to research and write the brief will be well-spent and will often make the difference between winning your case and placating an unhappy client.