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Briefs for the Brief Writer

Aug 29, 2013

BRIEFS FOR THE BRIEF WRITER: When in doubt, appeal

It sounds so simple: If a judgment or order “disposes of the entire matter in litigation as to one or more of the parties” and is properly entered or recorded (Sec. 808.03(1), Stats.), it is “final,” and the appeal time starts ticking.

Jul 2, 2012

BRIEFS FOR THE BRIEF WRITER: Legislative history – how to find it when you need it

Your client is being sued under a new or obscure Wisconsin statute, which has not been discussed in any reported or unreported cases. The statute contains no statement of its purpose, and its language could be read both to include and exclude your client.

Apr 10, 2012

BRIEFS FOR THE BRIEF WRITER: Know your local rules, or else

I once was charged with opposing a summary judgment motion in a multi-claim, multi-issue case. The movant’s brief, close to 35 pages, was accompanied by a motion to allow the filing of an overly long brief (to which we did not object). I prepared and filed my brief, which fell within the county’s local rules (but not by much).

Feb 14, 2012

BRIEFS FOR THE BRIEF WRITER: Are appellate reconsideration motions worth it?

Weighing the decision to appeal an adverse decision from the Court of Appeals is a lot like any decision these days involving money: Is it really worth it?

Oct 5, 2011

BRIEFS FOR THE BRIEF WRITER: Effective motions in limine

I was having a nice conversation with another attorney the other day when we began talking about environmental law.Your years-old case is finally coming to trial. You've got documents to review, witnesses to prep, exhibits to mark, and opening arguments to prepare. The hours[...]

May 4, 2011

BRIEFS FOR THE BRIEF WRITER: Legal sources are beginning, not end, of a good researcher’s work

Most of the motions practitioners bring or defend are researched through traditional Wisconsin law resources -- Wisconsin digests, key numbers, statutes, administrative laws and cases.

Feb 24, 2011

BRIEFS FOR THE BRIEF WRITER: New to brief writing? Go back to the basics

This isn’t a “how to” article, at least not directly. It has no specific tips for concise sentences or argumentative brief headings. That alone will make some readers very happy.

Dec 1, 2010

Good briefs critical to successful appeal

Most disputes resolve without litigation. Of the few that make it to court, most settle before trial. Of those few that reach judgment, only a small number are appealed. For many attorneys, then, preparing an appellate brief is a rare, if not alien, event.

Sep 28, 2010

Watch your step with unpublished opinions

You've got a thorny legal issue for which there is no published Wisconsin appellate decision. Or, you've got a relatively simple legal issue, but a unique set of facts which no published Wisconsin appellate decision has addressed.

May 3, 2010


Diane Slomowitz is a shareholder with the law firm of Fox, O’Neill & Shannon, SC in Milwaukee. She concentrates her practice on legal research, legal writing and appellate brief writing for the firm’s business and individual clients. Diane can be reached at 414-273-3939 or [email protected].

May 3, 2010

Commentary: Raging rhetoric can overshadow issues

We’ve all experienced it: You receive a motion, you begin to read its supporting brief, and the words slap your eyes: “spurious,” “not worthy of belief,” “incredible,” “utterly without foundation,” “wholesale abdication.” And that’s just the first page. Many lawyers believe that a brief must contain extremely aggressive language to be convincing to the court. […]

Mar 15, 2010

Telling the brief tale

Most lawyers have neither the time nor the resources to produce extensively researched and intricately crafted legal briefs. The process is often viewed as a time-eating money loser, and so assigned to young, inexperienced associates. Briefs, however, and the research that goes into them, are critical to successful litigation. I know. For over 28 years, […]


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