The Plot Thickens: The Appellate Brief as Story
Kenneth D. Chestek
University of Wyoming College of Law
December 18, 2007
Why are appellate briefs boring? Does overreliance on structural paradigms like IRAC lead to formulaic, and overly legalistic, writing? The author suggests that, by conceiving of briefs as stories and consciously using the elements of narrative (character, conflict, setting, theme, and plot, among others), the brief writer can make the client's story come to life for the reader, hopefully producing a more interesting, and therefore compelling, brief. The author has written a brief in a mock case (Rubin v. Old York Department of Social Services), and then deconstructs the brief in the article to show how the author intentionally used the elements of narrative to write a compelling brief in a difficult legal setting. The brief and the record it is based upon are also available for download on SSRN.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: Appellate brief, Narrative theory, storytelling, legal writing
Date posted: July 12, 2007 ; Last revised: June 5, 2012