The Dreaded Parenthical

6 Pages Posted: 24 May 2021

See all articles by Brian Wolfman

Brian Wolfman

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: May 18, 2021


This essay concerns the use -- and, particularly, the overuse and misuse -- of explanatory parentheticals in legal briefs. The essay describes four particular concerns about parentheticals that appear in briefs. Parentheticals shouldn't be used to repeat what you’ve just said or to say something that easily can be taken out of the parenthetical and placed in ordinary text. Generally, parentheticals shouldn't be used to drive the substance of a brief. The ordinary prose should do that work. And if there’s a good reason to use a parenthetical, try to place it at the end of a paragraph where it won’t interrupt the reader’s understanding of your ideas. And, finally, within a parenthetical, prefer ordinary English, so the reader knows immediately what you’re talking about. This essay discusses each of these points in more detail.

Keywords: brief, brief writing, parenthetical, litigation, appellate, advocacy, appellate advocacy

JEL Classification: K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Wolfman, Brian, The Dreaded Parenthical (May 18, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Brian Wolfman (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States


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