Think about your attachments

You have just finished writing a terrific legal brief. It is, let’s imagine, six pages long, attractively formatted, terse and powerful. You are very pleased with it. You imagine the judge sitting in chambers reading it, transfixed by the beauty of your argument.

Then you are in court on another matter and drop into the law library and see the judge’s clerk with your brief on the table next to her. But it isn’t a nice six-pager, it is a two-inch-thick bound monstrosity. And she isn’t reading your brief; she’s reading some other brief in another case. What happened?

Your attachments happened, swelling an appealing little brief into a seemingly oppressive tome. Attachments are often an afterthought. They shouldn’t be. When you’re done with the actual brief, think next about your attachments. You should always consider paring them down. You may find that many documents cited in a brief are not necessary to the decision that you seek or crucial for the judge to see, and you may decide to forego them altogether. You may find ways to reduce the length of an attachment (such as attaching a few pages of a deposition miniscript rather than every page of the “official” copy). You may find a way to bolster a fact another way, such as by referring to the record or citing to a website rather than attaching a document.

Improving your attachments doesn’t just mean cutting them down. You may also want to attach documents that you aren’t required to attach, such as the two or three key cases supporting the outcome that you desire. If the rules of the court will allow, you may want to highlight attachments to focus attention on the text cited in your brief (if you do this, you should highlight the copy that goes to your opponent as well).

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