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A recent survey indicates that what troubles federal judges most is not what lawyers say but what they fail to say when writing briefs. Although lawyers do a good job articulating legal issues and citing controlling, relevant legal authority, they are not doing enough with the law itself. Only fifty-six percent of the judges surveyed said that lawyers “always” or “usually” make their client’s best arguments. Fifty-eight percent of the judges rated the quality of the legal analysis as just “good,” as opposed to “excellent” or “very good.” The problem seems to be that briefs lack rigorous analysis, and the bulk of the work is left to busy judges. Many judges also indicated that lawyers often make redundant or weak arguments that detract from the good ones. What judges really want is shorter, harder hitting briefs.

Publication Citation

8 Legal Writing 257-284 (2002)