A Good Appellate Attorney Knows Why the Reply Brief is an Invaluable Tool

Posted on 14 May, 2014 at 11:15

A good appellate attorney should always consider filing a Reply Brief. This brief allows you to respond to your opponent’s legal arguments and also gives you the opportunity to reinforce the central theme of your legal arguments on appeal. Appellate lawyers should also explain, in a Reply Brief, why their client’s legal position is the superior choice for the appellate court.


When the appellate court rules allow for the filing of a Reply Brief, an appellate attorney should strongly consider filing one. The first reason why the Reply Brief should not be overlooked is simple – it provides your client with the last word. When appellate courts review the briefs, they usually read them in order. First the Appellant’s Brief, then the Appellee’s or Respondent’s Brief in Opposition, and then, finally, the Reply Brief. In any argument, it is always beneficial to be the one who gets the last word. It is usually the thought that lingers with the reader when they walk away from the papers.


That being said, a good appellate attorney also needs to structure the Reply Brief in an appropriate manner. As any appellate attorney knows, this is not a place to raise new arguments. This is, however, the place to counter the arguments raised by your opponent. It is also the place to explain why the appellant’s position is the superior argument and why the court should rule in the appellant’s favor. Remember, it is called a “Reply” Brief for a reason.


The appellate attorney drafting the Reply Brief should also remember that a good Reply Brief swings back around to the appellant’s main arguments. If you simply counter the points made in the opposition papers, you may inadvertently leave the appellate court with only the memory of the points made in the opposition papers. Remember, the Reply Brief is the usually the last document the appellate court reads. Your job as an appellate attorney is to leave the appellate court thinking that the appellant’s arguments are the superior and winning argument. You weaken your argument when you fail to segue back to in order to remind the court that your client’s arguments are stronger than your opponents. You must segue back to your arguments in the Reply Brief to do this. Again, a good appellate attorney should always favor filing a Reply Brief in an appeal. 


Written by:   Alexandra C. Siskopoulos, Esq.

Telephone:   (646) 942-1798

Email:           [email protected] 


Disclaimer: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Categories: Appellate Attorneys

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