Joshua Rosenkranz discusses the secret to writing winning legal arguments

New York appellate attorney Joshua Rosenkranz of Orrick shares the secret to writing legal arguments that win.

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Well, it’s very generous of Law360. A few sort of principles that I abide by. The first and foremost is no brief has ever persuaded an audience that doesn’t read it, and so I try to make my briefs as readable and user friendly as possible. I always imagine the judge sitting at the edge of his or her chair with a big stack of work, waiting for the opportunity to put this brief down and pick up something else instead. So narratives are really important, telling a story that makes the judge want to read. Making everything seem like common sense, so I never just rest on “this case said this.” I talk about cases in ways that resonate with the judge. I talk about our case in ways that resonate with the judge, that make the judge say not only is this what the precedent requires, but this is actually a really sensible result.

And, finally, a lot of advocacy, I have found, particularly where the law is unclear, boils down to something that I call the “battle of the metaphors.” Whoever can come up with the metaphor that captures the judge’s attention and makes the judge say, “Yes, this case looks just – this foreign idea looks just like this thing that I’m familiar with, and this thing that I’m familiar with, obviously I know the legal resolution of it,” that’s the party that often wins the case. And so I spend a lot of time thinking about the appropriate metaphor.