Appellate Strategies and Perspectives: Brief Writing & Technology

This is the second of three sessions in the Appellate Strategies and Perspectives CLE series, which is co-sponsored by Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Each session will follow a similar format. Practitioners in the field will begin by discussing how to achieve success and avoid pitfalls at various stages of an appeal. Academics and legal observers then will speak on contemporary issues affecting appellate practice. Finally, current or former judges will offer their perspectives on the previous two topics or other areas of appellate practice.

In this session, presenters from Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP will address various appellate issues that arise after a notice of appeal has been filed and during the brief-writing process.  Mary Beth Beazley, a professor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, will focus on brief writing and how modern technology has changed writing processes and techniques.  Justice Judith L. French will conclude the program by providing a perspective from the bench on these issues.

  August 29, 2013
8:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Barrister Club
25 West 11th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201
Directions to the Barrister Club

General: $90
Student: $30

Space is limited. Please register by August 16th.

This course has been approved by the Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Continuing Legal Education for 3.00 total CLE hours instruction. It has also been approved by the Ohio State Bar Association for 3.00 specialty CLE hours toward OSBA Appellate Law Certification.


8:15 - 8:45 a.m. Registration/Breakfast/Welcome
8:45 - 9:45 a.m. Achieving Success and Avoiding Pitfalls at Various Steps of an Appeal
9:45 - 10:05 a.m. Break
10:05 - 11:05 a.m. Contemporary Appellate Trends and Issues
11:05 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. A Judicial Perspective
12:05 - 12:15 p.m. Q&A/Closing remarks

Achieving Success and Avoiding Pitfalls at Various Steps of an Appeal

Elizabeth Davis ConwayCompleting Docketing Statements and Ordering the Trial Court Record 

Elizabeth Davis Conway, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

After, or sometimes concurrently with, filing a notice of appeal, and before an appellate brief is filed, parties must complete docketing statements and obtain the trial court record for appellate court review.  This segment will discuss some of the variations among Ohio appellate court practices and the importance of complying with relevant local rules.

Michael R. ThomasBeyond the Rules of Grammar: Style, Voice, and Attitude in Appellate Legal Writing

Michael R. Thomas, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

An appellate brief is not well-written merely because it complies with the rules of grammar. Unconscious decisions you make about the style, voice, and attitude of your briefs affect their readability, clarity, and persuasiveness, but legal writing seminars rarely cover these topics. This presentation addresses "invisible" authorship, the need to accommodate the reader's expectations even when the reader is wrong, the power of deliberately breaking rules (including the advantages of passive voice), and the many ways in which writing a great brief differs from writing great literature.

Marcel C. DuhamelWriting to the Standard

Marcel C. Duhamel, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

The standard of review the court will apply to the case is often the determining factor in how the court will resolve the appeal.  This presentation will focus on tailoring the brief to emphasize the standard of review and to set forth the facts and law in the effort to persuade the court to apply the standard in the way that favors your position.

Contemporary Appellate Trends and Issues

Mary Beth BeazleyMary Beth Beazley, Associate Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Nowadays, it is common for appellate judges to read briefs on a tablet or other electronic device, but some judges and clerks are still wedded to paper. As the profession transitions from all paper to all digital, legal writers must look for innovative ways to write a persuasive brief that works in both hard copy and electronic formats. Seemingly mundane features like topic sentences and typography can have a significant impact on how easily arguments are understood on the screen or the page. At the other end of the spectrum, practitioners have to navigate court rules and technological realities when deciding whether to embed hot links, images, or other features in their documents. This session will address both low tech and high tech methods that brief writers can exploit to make their briefs more effective.

A Judicial Perspective: Judith L. French

Justice Judith L. FrenchJustice French will offer a judicial perspective on the appellate process and her view from the bench on the role technology plays in brief writing.

Justice French became the 155th justice of the Ohio Supreme Court in January 2013. Prior to her appointment, Justice French served on the Tenth District Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from Franklin County courts and state administrative agencies. She was elected to the appellate court in November 2004 and served until her appointment to the Supreme Court. Previously, Justice French served as chief legal counsel to Governor Taft.

About Vorys/Moritz

Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP practitioners have represented clients in the Supreme Court of the United States, federal courts of appeals, the Supreme Court of Ohio, and other appellate courts in Ohio and in states across the nation. Vorys’ ranks include more than 15 lawyers who served as law clerks on appellate courts, and nearly 40 lawyers whose clerkships with trial judges have given them unique awareness of potential appellate issues. The Vorys Appellate Subgroup regularly monitors the appellate courts to apprise Vorys attorneys and clients of important decisions and trends.

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law faculty members are regularly cited in court decisions, serve on legal reform commissions, help draft model statutes, and provide testimony before Congress, lead judicial workshops, and argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.