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How Much Does the Quality of Your Brief Matter? - Appellate Practice News

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Appellate Practice News

Posted on: Mar 1, 2021

By Ruth Johnson, Indiana Public Defender Council

As appellate practitioners, we all do our best to write clearly and persuasively but, in the end, how much does the quality of our brief matter? I am not aware of a study in Indiana that measures brief quality with outcome, but I ran across an interesting article that measures brief quality with outcome in the U.S. Supreme Court. The study found: 

“Compared with briefs for parties that don’t prevail, briefs for prevailing parties are, on average, distinctive in these five ways: 

  1. Higher scores on a proprietary measure of transition quality and variety 
  2. Higher scores on a proprietary measure of strong sentence structure 
  3. Higher scores on a proprietary measure of patterns in the first words of sentences 
  4. A slightly lower word count 
  5. Higher scores on a proprietary measure of modifier choice” 

You can read more about the study here.

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