What is a Brief?
A brief is a formal document outlining the arguments of an appeal to the Supreme Court. Each AMC3 team is required to write a brief and submit it electronically two weeks before the General Assembly.
A link to the brief template is on the same page as this year's case. The maximum length is ten pages. In United State Appellate Courts, judges and justices sometimes make their decisions made before the oral argument even starts, and the most influential thing a good appellate advocate can do is write an outstanding brief.
Acknowledging this significance, the court has made the Brief a separate award moving forward. The Brief will be scored and an award for Best Brief will be announced. Also, the brief will be used during the oral arguments in the instance of a tie.
How to Write a Brief
Emphasize Precedents- The more precedent used the better. This doesn’t mean that a team should copy and paste random quotes every other line. However, it does mean that everything you say in a brief should be backed up by the case authorities used in each year’s competition. A team that only cites three case authorities in their brief probably won’t have the same caliber of arguments when compared to teams that cite the majority of cases.
Be Organized- Have clear, professional transitions in your writing. A brief should flow logically. Complete every section of the brief template and follow formatting as closely as possible. Microsoft Word's Table of Contents feature can aid a brief’s organization for those savvy in advanced MS Office tools.
Issues- A team’s argument should reflect an understanding of the core issues of a case. Issue identification is a huge part of what separates appellate courts from a court of the first instance. An appellate court case is an attempt to correct something done by a lower court, as well as a question of law.
Anticipate and Rebut- A good legal argument predicts the arguments the opposition will use and tries to preemptively deal with them. An even better legal argument can see its own weaknesses and gives reasoning that corrects them.
No Fluff- Write your brief in a way that you utilize every moment the brief grader spends on your case analyzing your argument. Extra words, unnecessary phrases, and repetitiveness dilute the efficiency of your brief. Make sure to have your brief peer-edited by members of your team to pick out flaws and weaknesses. Even reading your brief out loud can unveil simple mistakes.
Great Writing- While proper grammar is a necessity, a good brief writer takes a brief’s language above the standard of basic grammar rules. By crafting each sentence so that it is concise and impactful, a team can fit more into its argument without losing the reader’s understanding. Good teams structure their arguments intelligently and perfectly polished for the reader. Spending ample time on the brief will consequently aid a team’s strength in oral rounds as they will have a better knowledge of case authorities and arguments. TISC recommends starting on the case the day it is released and working at an organized pace with your team each week leading up to the Brief deadline.
Submitting a Brief
Please Submit Your Brief in PDF format. The file name should be your team number. Example: 138.pdf
Submit to briefs@AMC3.org