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Article

Tools to build a
winning brief

Nick Borger
National Client Representative

When I was new to the legal field, I worked for an attorney who had a little cartoon he kept on his desk. It said, “thank goodness justice is blind since so much legal work is done in briefs.”

Briefing, he explained to me, was the single most important skill an attorney needed to master to represent their clients effectively. Persuasive briefing includes identifying the issues in a case, citing to proper authority, and crafting a legal argument. An excellent legal brief can put a judge on your side of an issue before you ever step foot in a courtroom. On the other hand, there is no quicker way to turn a judge against you than to misrepresent the state of the law in your brief.

Early in my career, I knew the quality of my legal brief was important, but I didn’t have many supporting resources at my disposal. New attorneys now have Westlaw Edge, which offers a suite of tools that you can use to make sure that your briefs are laser sharp.

Rely on Westlaw Edge to provide the tools you need to build a winning brief

  • A solid base to build upon is essential in brief writing and working on a new project without an example to work from and compare to is scary. Thankfully, Westlaw Edge maintains the world’s largest online repository of briefs for litigators; ensuring that practitioners will always have a good starting point.
  • Thorough research is critical to a well-written brief. Westlaw Edge offers a new tool, Quick Check, that allows attorneys to upload their entire brief, receive recommended cases, secondary sources, and other briefs and memoranda that they should consider. If opposing counsel’s brief is uploaded, Quick Check can be used to locate and investigate cases they chose not to cite. Quick Check also gathers all the citations in a document that have negative treatment and puts them in one place so KeyCite treatment for each can quickly be reviewed.
  • Attorneys need to know they’re citing good law in a brief, so they need a world-class citator. KeyCite is just that citator. It helps attorneys make sure a case is good law before citing to it. This tool uses icons at the top of cases, which are easy to understand and impossible to miss. The new KeyCite Overruling Risk icon on Westlaw Edge warns when a point of law in a case has been implicitly undermined based on its reliance on an overruled or otherwise invalid prior decision. A user can navigate directly to the impacted paragraph and view which case is causing the orange KeyCite symbol.
  • Attorneys need to produce top-notch work product and do so efficiently. They can rely on Drafting Assistant, a tool that allows attorneys to harness the awesome power of Westlaw Edge directly from their word processor. Drafting Assistant allows practitioners to use their own word processors to maintain and update the good-law status within their briefs, run online legal research searches from within their document, quickly and easily create a table of authorities, check the format of their documents and citations, and easily link into Quick Check to upload their brief for a final review.

With these legal research tools at your disposal, you can quickly and confidently build strong and relevant arguments for your client and develop a reputation as an attorney who gets the job done. Transform your practice with Westlaw. 

Quick Check on Westlaw Edge

Upload your document and this new feature will recommend relevant authority, secondary sources, briefs, and memoranda.