Explanatory Parentheticals Can Pack a Persuasive Punch

36 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2013 Last revised: 13 Mar 2014

See all articles by Eric Voigt

Eric Voigt

Faulkner University, Jones School of Law

Date Written: November 21, 2013


This article focuses on the persuasive use of explanatory parentheticals when citing authority in motions and briefs.

Justice Ginsburg has stated that a “first-rate brief” has citations with “parenthetical explanations.” But many advocates use parentheticals too rarely or ineffectively. They do not know that parentheticals are a rhetorical tool involving three modes of persuasion: logos, ethos, and pathos. Advocates also fail to appreciate that explaining the holding and reasoning of a case in just a few lines requires strong analytical skills. My article informs advocates how to draft and incorporate parentheticals in ways that persuade judges.

My article first explains the theory of why parentheticals persuade judges. To illustrate, effective parentheticals demonstrate an advocate’s command of the law, thus bolstering the advocate’s credibility. My article then sets forth seven guidelines for drafting explanatory parentheticals. Last, it discusses specific ways that parentheticals should be incorporated into motions and briefs when citing cases and statutes, such as proving a rule that was synthesized from several cases and factually distinguishing adverse cases.

This article contains many examples of good and bad parentheticals, which are taken from briefs and motions drafted by top advocates and this author.

Keywords: explanatory parentheticals, parentheticals, persuasive writing, persuasion, legal writing, clear writing, advocacy

Suggested Citation

Voigt, Eric, Explanatory Parentheticals Can Pack a Persuasive Punch (November 21, 2013). 45 McGeorge L. Rev. 269 (2013), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340202

Eric Voigt (Contact Author)

Faulkner University, Jones School of Law ( email )

5245 Atlanta Highway
Montgomery, AL 36109
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.faulkner.edu/law

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