Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Big Bad E-Brief: What Is Everyone Afraid Of?

Last year, I had the pleasure of speaking (and more importantly: listening!) at the Corbin Appellate Symposium. It's an incredible event with thoughtful, engaging speakers and fantastic attendees. I'm delighted to be going back again this year to talk about legal tech and persuasion science. 

A topic that came up a few times during the last symposium was e-briefs. Some courts have taken the charge by encouraging lawyers to use simple technology to make their briefs easier to navigate-especially when it comes to supporting cases and evidence. 

For example, the California Court of Appeals tells lawyers they can use live-linking to evidence and cases. Think about how nice it is for a judge or clerk to just click a link embedded after a sentence and see the supporting evidence pop up? No more hours of pouring through record cites and cross-references. 

Ca court of appealsDeveloping e-brief skills and capabilities must be a core area of competency for litigation and appellate lawyers. Even if you're not bought in and ready to live link every cite, just being able to easily prepare an e-brief with internal cross-references is a headache without some basic word processing skills. And I'm constantly struck by how many lawyers don't even have that.

I have to put in a plug for an excellent discussion of e-briefing issues put together by the Counsel for Appellate Lawyers. It tees up a lot of the things we should all be thinking about on this point. Like making sure your filing is easily searchable and navigable, live linking support, and thoughts about readability. 

But I'm curious: Why are so many folks against the move to embedding links to evidence and supporting sources? Not all judges and readers will use them, but for the ones that will, isn't it worth it?

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