The September 2015 ABA Journal has an interesting article by Bryan Garner on headings in appellate briefs. Garner makes a case for why the table of contents is one of the most important components of a brief. He also provides guidelines for maximizing the impact of this required–but too often marginalized–component of legal writing. Finally, Garner shares pointers on becoming “a propositional writer–one who figures out the main points before beginning to write,” declaring this skill to be the key to efficiency and quality.
While I often start out with one set of headings, those headings usually go through several metamorphoses as I refine my arguments and conduct more in-depth legal research. However, I do write headings with the idea that the table of contents can serve as a good outline of my arguments for both the courts and myself.
What are your thoughts on headings in appellate briefs and Garner’s suggestions? Have you found ways to cultivate the “efficiency and quality” of your appellate brief writing? Let us know in the comments below.