Case Study: Two Versions of a Trial Brief

Case Study: Two Versions of a Trial Brief

Below are two versions of a well-analyzed defendants' brief written by a fourth-semester student at the CUNY School of Law. The version on the left represents the student's first draft, while the version on the right is a final product. In moving from first to final draft, the writer did a great deal of editing and reworking of the text to maximize its persuasive potential.

As you compare the two drafts, take note of the many strategic changes the writer has made. Consider, for example, the factual details given in the first draft that were omitted in the final version—how might these omissions change the reader's perceptions of the plaintiffs and defendants? Notice also how the writer has rephrased and reorganized many of the headings and subheadings in the argument section, attempting to lead the reader more clearly to the conclusion most favorable to the defendants. Other features to look for include the amount of space given to discussing the opposing party's claims, as well as the use of transitional phrases to make sections of the argument more tightly cohesive.