How to Write a Persuaisive Legal Document

By Krystal Wascher

A persuasive legal document is often called a "brief." The main purpose of a brief is to persuade a judge to approve an accompanying motion such as a "Motion to Suppress Evidence" or a "Motion for Summary Judgment." Lawyers, paralegals and law students are often required to produce persuasive legal briefs as part of their profession or course requirements.

Create an outline for your brief. An outline will help you to organize all of the points, cases, regulations, and factual information that you will use in the final drat of your brief. Review your case file and any documents, statements, motions and briefs that have been filed by the opposing party. Research relevant case law, statutes, regulations and codes and include both weak and strong points derived from them in your outline.

Format your brief. The general brief format includes the following topic headings in the following order: "Introduction," "Factual Background," "Argument" and "Conclusion." Type your headings in italicized font and assign a roman numeral or number to each section heading. Section headings should be aligned to the left margin on your page rather than centered. Create several spaces between each heading to allow for the substantive content of your brief.

Complete your introduction section by providing a brief explanation as to why the judge should grant your motion, or conversely, oppose a motion by an opposing party. You will basically be restating your conclusion in this section. It should be no longer than two paragraphs in length.

Complete the factual background section by recounting the relevant facts of your case. This section should include the names and positions of the parties, the procedural history of the case to date, and the specific facts that led to the current legal dispute.

Complete the argument section by creating an introductory paragraph that lists each argument that you will make throughout the remainder of the section. In your next paragraph, restate your first argument and provide facts and case law to support your position. If you are responding to a brief that has previously been submitted by an opposing party, address your arguments (or rebuttals) in the same order in which they were addressed in the opposing party's brief. Provide case or statute citations for each point of law that you use in your argument. If you have more than one issue to argue, create numbered or lettered subheadings to highlight each point of contention.

Complete the conclusion section of your brief by writing a few sentences that summarize why your position should be accepted. A simple way to complete this task is by restating your argument points from the previous section. You may also choose to conclude your brief with a simple call to action. For example, you conclusion might consist of the following sentence: "For these reasons the court should grant the attached Motion for (insert motion title)."

About the Author

Krystal Wascher has been writing online content since 2008. She received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and philosophy from Thiel College and a Juris Doctor from Duquesne University School of Law. She was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 2009.