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What Is a Brief? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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A brief is simply a legal argument that is written and presented to a court. A brief helps the parties involved to reach a quick agreement regarding legal issues that are involved in the case they’re trying to solve. 

In the court of appeal, a brief is always employed as it is important and has proven to be a faster means of concluding oral arguments. 

The person who writes the legal brief is the lawyer or attorney in charge of the case. He or she will state facts and reasons why the preceding judge or anyone in charge should see that the final decision is in favor of one party (which is usually their client).

In a probate matter, for instance, the executor creates the brief, sends it to the preceding judge and begins the probate process.

Also, the legal brief must be written. It should also be error-free. If the proper authorities are cited and the legal arguments are strong, the court can be easily convinced that their client should be favored at the end of the judgment.

While going to court, all parties involved are required to present this brief to the court. This is valuable as it makes for easier decision-making. Briefs don’t get published most of the time. 

Why is a brief important 

A brief is important because it aids the court in easy identification of the legal issues in a case. Effective citation of the right authorities and clear drafting of the arguments can get the judge to be on your side and give you a fair judgment. This is also why you should ensure that your attorney knows their onions. 

How is a brief structured?

Every legal brief comes in a particular structure that makes it valid. Below is the basic way to know a good legal brief:

  • An introduction. This is the part that explains the claims of the party, the theories they hold regarding the case, and the different procedures the case has gone through.
  • A table of authorities(TOA). This is where the attorney lists out the legal sources they have consulted since the case began.
  • A statement of facts. This section is created to reveal all the facts that have been used to make certain decisions regarding the case. The attorney must use clear, persuasive terms to tender their facts. 

That will prevent the judge from misunderstanding the original intentions of the lawyer.

  • The argument section. This section is used to layout legal arguments.
  • The conclusion section. Important points of the brief are summarized in this section. Writing this part first also helps the attorney to focus their thoughts on the more relevant things.

Note, the brief is usually a very short document clearly stating the matter at hand and nothing more. The page length can be around four or five pages.

Keeping it short makes it easier for the judge to go through and understand your case fast as you want it to be. 

A legal brief is used by the attorney to establish an argument in court for a party they are defending. 

The court will then go through the brief, review it, and pass the final judgment. Depending on how clear and concise the brief is, the judge can make the judgment for or against the party involved.   

It’s expected that all the legal briefs that are presented to the supreme court be accompanied by an appropriately signed certificate. The certificate will confirm that the format and language used in writing the brief are in line with the requirements of the law.

Also, If the author isn’t a member of the supreme court, his or her signature should be notarized.

Synonyms for a brief

The following are also words you can use to replace “briefs” in a court of law:

  • Legal instruments
  • Amicus Curiae brief
  • Official documents
  • Instrument
  • Jurisprudence, etc.

What are the procedures for judging a case with a brief?

The appellant (the person who’s trying to persuade the court) will be the first to submit his or her brief. 

Then, the appellee (the second party that’s meant to respond) will go on to submit a brief too. The difference is that this time around, the respondent’s brief is coming as a “reply” to the appellant’s brief. 

The State rules will determine if the parties will be allowed by the court to dike extra replies for their opponents. 

At the end of the day, the court can decide to judge the case based on the legal briefs that were submitted or just heat their oral arguments.

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