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A brief (Old French from Latin "''brevis''", short) is a written
legal Law is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as oppose ...
document used in various legal
adversarial system The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and simi ...
s that is presented to a
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Sta ...

court
arguing why one party to a particular case should prevail. In
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
(and other
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good Common good Common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Commonwealth
countries, ''e.g.,''
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...
) the phrase refers to the papers given to a
barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at law, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialis ...

barrister
when they are instructed.


Language

:Pre-Trial briefs are exchanged between parties at a date set during the pre-trial conference to argue matters under consideration before trial. :Trial briefs are presented at trial to resolve a disputed point of evidence. :Legal briefs are used as part of arguing a pre-trial motion in a case or proceeding. :: Merit briefs (or briefs on the merits) refers to briefs on the inherent rights and wrongs of a case, absent any emotional or technical biases ::
Amicus briefs An ''amicus curiae'' (literally, "friend of the court"; plural: ''amici curiae'') is someone who is not a party A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event ...
refer to briefs filed by persons not directly party to the case. These are often groups that have a direct interest in the outcome. : Appellate briefs refer to briefs that occur at the appeal stage. :Memorandum of law may be another word for brief, although that term may also be used to describe an internal document in a
law firm A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate An advocate is a professional in the field of law. Different countries' legal systems use the term with some ...
in which an attorney attempts to analyze a client's legal position without arguing for a specific interpretation of the law. :
IRAC IRAC ( ) is an acronym that generally stands for: Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion. It functions as a methodology for legal analysis. The IRAC format is mostly used in hypothetical questions in law school A law school (also known as ...
Case Briefs Are usually a one page review done by a paralegal or attorney, ultimately used by the attorney to find previously decided cases by an
Appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics ...
, in State or Federal Jurisdiction, which show how the courts have ruled on earlier similar cases in court.


Function

The brief or memorandum establishes the legal argument for the party, explaining why the reviewing court should affirm or reverse the lower court's judgment based on legal precedent and citations to the controlling cases or statutory law. To achieve these ends, the brief must appeal to the accepted forces such as
statutory law Statutory law or statute law is written law passed by a body of legislature. This is as opposed to Oral law, oral or customary law; or regulatory law promulgated by the Executive (government), executive or common law of the judiciary. Statutes may ...
or
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government inst ...
, but may also include policy arguments and social statistics when appropriate. For example, if the law is vague or broad enough to allow the appellate judge some discretion in his decision making, an exploration of the consequences of the possible decision outside of legal formalism may provide guidance. Such arguments may also support a legal argument when the purpose of the law at issue may be clear, but the particular application of that law in service of that purpose is in dispute.


Procedure

The party filing the
appeal In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is describ ...
– called the petitioner or appellant, who is attempting to convince the appellate court to overturn the lower court decision – is responsible for submitting his brief first. The responding party – the respondent or appellee, who is satisfied with the lower decision – then files a reply brief within a specified time. Depending on the local rules of procedure, the court may allow or even require the parties to then file additional replies to the opposing party's briefs, multiplying the back-and-forth responses of the parties. Depending on local rules, the court may then decide the case purely based on the submitted briefs or may hear
oral argument Oral arguments are spoken presentations to a judge or appellate court by a lawyer (or parties when representing themselves) of the law, legal reasons why they should prevail. Oral argument at the appellate level accompanies written brief (law), bri ...
by the parties.


England

Upon a barrister devolves the duty of taking charge of a case when it comes into court, but all the preliminary work, such as the drawing up of the case, serving papers, marshalling evidence, etc., is performed by a
solicitor A solicitor is a legal practitioner A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate An advocate is a professional in the field of law. Different countries' legal systems use the term with somewhat differing meanings. ...
. The delivery of a brief to counsel gives him authority to act for his client in all matters which the litigation involves. The brief was probably so called from its first being only a copy of the original writ.


Contents

A brief contains a concise summary for the information of counsel of the case which the barrister has to plead, with all material facts in chronological order, and frequently such observations thereon as the solicitor may think fit to make, the names of witnesses, with the "proofs," that is, the nature of the evidence which each witness is ready to give, if called upon. The brief may also contain suggestions for the use of counsel when cross-examining witnesses called by the other side. Accompanying the brief may be copies of the
pleading In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...
s, and of all documents material to the case. The brief is always endorsed with the title of the court in which the action is to be tried, with the title of the action, and the names of the counsel and of the solicitor who delivers the brief. Counsel's fee is also marked. The result of the action is noted on the brief by counsel, or if the action is compromised, the terms of the compromise are endorsed on each brief and signed by the leading counsel on the opposite side.


Brief bag

The ''brief-bag'', in which counsel's papers are carried to and from court, now forms an integral part of a barrister's outfit, although today it is used primarily to carry counsel's robes. In the early part of the 19th century the possession of a brief-bag was strictly confined to those who had received one from a king's counsel (silk).
King's counsel In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some pr ...
were then few in number, were considered officers of the court, and had a salary of £40 a year, with a supply of paper, pens and purple bags. These bags they distributed among rising juniors of their acquaintance, whose bundles of briefs were getting inconveniently large to be carried in their hands. These perquisites were abolished in 1830. Brief-bags are now either blue or red. Blue bags are those with which barristers provide themselves when first called, and, in some jurisdictions, it is a breach of etiquette to let this bag be visible in court. The only brief-bag allowed to be placed on the desks is the red bag, which by English legal etiquette is given by a leading counsel to a junior as a reward for excellence in some important case. This is still viewed as one of the great traditions of the bar. The red bag is embroidered with the junior barrister’s initials and a handwritten note of thanks is usually placed inside the bag. In many jurisdictions, the receipt of a red bag from a silk is seen as a rite of passage for a junior barrister. The use of such special bags eventually led to the
briefcase A briefcase is a narrow hard-sided box-shaped bag or case used mainly for carrying papers and equipped with a handle. Lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate An advocate is a professional in the fi ...

briefcase
.


Ecclesiastical

In English
ecclesiastical law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dist ...
a brief meant
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) ( always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act acco ...
issued out of
chancery Chancery may refer to: * Chancery (diplomacy), the building that houses a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy * Chancery (medieval office), a medieval writing office * Chancery (Scotland) (also called The office of Director of Chancery, or Chan ...

chancery
to
churchwarden A churchwarden is a lay official in a parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest#Chr ...
s or other officers for the collection of money for church purposes. Such briefs were regulated by a statute of 1704, but are now obsolete, though they are still to be found named in one of the rubrics in the Communion service of the
Book of Common Prayer A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of v ...

Book of Common Prayer
.


United States

In the United States, the word differs in meaning from its English counterpart because
attorneys in the United States Attorney may refer to: Roles * Attorney at law, an official title of lawyers in some jurisdictions * Attorney general, the principal legal officer of (or advisor to) a government * Attorney-in-fact, a holder of a power of attorney who is (though no ...
exercise all the functions distributed in England between barristers and solicitors. A lawyer sometimes prepares for his own use what is called a "trial brief" for use at the trial. This corresponds in all essential particulars with the "brief" prepared by the solicitor in England for the use of counsel. But the more distinctive use of the term in America is in the case of the brief "in error or appeal," before an appellate court. This is a written or printed document, varying according to circumstances, but embodying the argument on the question affected. Most of the appellate courts require the filing of printed briefs for the use of the court and opposing counsel at a time designated for each side before hearing. In the rules of the United States Supreme Court and circuit courts of appeals the brief is required to contain a concise statement of the case, a specification of errors relied on, including the substance of evidence, the admission or rejection of which is to be reviewed, or any extract from a charge excepted to, and an argument exhibiting clearly the points of law or fact to be discussed. This form of brief, it may be added, is also adopted for use at the trial in certain states of the Union which require printed briefs to be delivered to the court.


Contents

In American courts, the brief typically has the following parts: a table of contents; a
table of authoritiesA table of authorities is part of a brief (law), legal brief that contains an index of the case (law), cases, Statute, statutes, and secondary sources cited. This article deals specifically with the characteristics of tables of authorities in the Un ...
listing the cases,
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...

statute
s, and
regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems A complex system is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way e ...

regulation
s that are cited; a presentation of the issues under review by the court, usually in only one sentence if possible; a statement of the case that presents the relevant facts and the previous history of the case in the lower courts; a summary of the legal standard of review that the appellate court should use in evaluating the decision of the lower court; a summary of the party's argument; and the full discussion of the legal and/or policy arguments explaining why the party believes it should win the case, which will be the most lengthy portion of the brief. The brief may also be accompanied by an appendix that includes copies of the lower court opinions and other documents or court opinions cited in the brief. The particular required format of briefs is a matter of local court procedural rules.


Elsewhere

In Scotland a brief is called a memorial and in Canada it is called a factum. In Australia the tradition regarding briefs is almost identical to England, except that the use of brief bags is relatively uncommon. In
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, the word ''brief'' refers to a regular
letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...
.


Professional vs. student briefs

In North American
law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education Legal education is the education of individuals in the principles, practices, and theory of law Law is a system A syste ...
s, students usually study historical cases by "briefing" them. Law school briefs are shorter than court briefs but follow a similar structure: presentation of issue, presentation of facts, presentation of legal and policy arguments and presentation of outcome. Analyzing the case from different perspectives help the student understand the essentials of legal writing. For more information see this guide on How to Brief a Case. In the United States, the practice of briefing cases for study began at
Harvard Law School Harvard Law School (HLS) is the law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education Legal education is the education of individuals in the principles, practices, and ...
in the fall of 1870 with the introduction of the case method of teaching by Professor Christopher Columbus Langdell. Case briefing is a widely accepted pedagogical method among law professors today.


IRAC Case Briefing

IRAC is an
Abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevi ...
of Issue, Rule, Analysis (or some say Application), Conclusion. When a potential client has an interview with an attorney and tells of the legal problem, the attorney, or office paralegal, will review prior case law to find out if the client does indeed have a problem that has legal remedy. The formation of each case brief follows the same pattern: Facts, Issue, Rule, Analysis, Impact. A case brief may also include a dissent or concurrence if there is either in the particular case. The facts should include the important information from the case, and should also include the procedural history before it makes it to the supreme court. The issue statement should always be in the form of a question that will be answered in the rule section. Some schools prefer students to list the Facts, Issue, Holding, and Reasoning.


See also

*
Amicus curiae An ''amicus curiae'' (literally, "friend of the court"; plural: ''amici curiae'') is someone who is not a party A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event ...
brief


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Brief (Law) Legal documents