Brief Writing Tips from Federal Circuit Clerks-A Most Important Audience While judges are the primary audience of briefs filed with the Federal Circuit, they are not the only audience. Law clerks recommend strategies for writing persuasive and effective briefs.

AuthorHonorable Jimmie V. Reyna, Aaron P. Bowling, A. Victoria Christoff
Published in Landslide® magazine, Volume 12, Number 5, a publication of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law (ABA-IPL), ©2020 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
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By the Honorable Jimmie V. Reyna, Aaron P. Bowling, and A. Victoria Christoff
The Honorable Jimmie V. Reyna has served as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit since 2011.
Aaron P. Bowling spent six years at Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. in Chicago, Illinois, before joining Judge Reyna’s chambers in 2019. Aaron
represented clients in a variety of intellectual property matters, including appeals before the Federal Circuit. Aaron received a bachelor’s
degree in molecular biology from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, a master’s degree in bioengineering from Northwestern
University, and a juris doctorate degree from the George Washington University Law School. A. Victoria Christoff spent two years at
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Washington, D.C., before joining Judge Reyna’s chambers in 2019. Victoria represented clients in a variety
of matters, including SEC investigations and challenges to government contract awards. She also clerked for the Honorable Marian Blank
Horn of the United States Court of Federal Claims. Victoria received a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latin American studies
from Vanderbilt University, and her juris doctorate degree from the George Washington University Law School.
here is no doubt that strong legal brief writing paves the way for success.
In fact, I often hear my colleagues opine that cases are mainly won and lost
on the briefs. But while judges are certainly the primary and nal audience of
briefs led with the Federal Circuit, judges are not your only audience. You are
also writing to another important audience: the judges’ law clerks.
My law clerks serve an indispensable role. They help me as I formulate and
reach my judgment in each case. We discuss the merits of each case over the course
of several meetings. As part of that process, my clerks pore over the briefs, the evi-
dentiary record, and any relevant legal authorities. They then prepare an
analytical memorandum that summarizes the key legal issues, each par-
ty’s arguments, and the important facts on which the case may turn.
I suspect that over the course of their clerkship, each of my
clerks will have reviewed more than 100 briefs, often conduct-
ing multiple read-throughs per brief. In addition, they attend
oral arguments and observe which issues resonate with the
different judges on the panel; assess whether the briefs fully
educated the panel about those issues; and analyze the degree
to which certain brief-writing tactics ultimately enhanced or
diminished a party’s likelihood of success.
I am often asked to provide my views on the keys to successful
brief writing. For this article, I thought about my clerks’ own valuable
perspectives. So I enlisted two of my current clerks—Aaron P. Bowling and
A. Victoria Christoff—to recommend strategies for writing persuasive, effective
briefs. Both are top-notch clerks. The following are their unique insights, which I am
sure will assist you in crafting a successful brief to the Federal Circuit. —Judge Reyna

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