Understanding the stages of brief [Minnesota State Bar Association]

Cassandra Jacobsen co-authored an article about the "stages of brief" she and other lawyers go through when assigned a substantial writing project. Casandra discussed how the stages of brief can be similar to the stages of grief. The stages some people face are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She said it is important to acknowledge these stages and remember they are normal. She shared the following practical pointers: 

  • Do not procrastinate, just start writing. Getting started is half the battle, and it’s less daunting to revise imperfect writing than to have nothing at all. You’ll thank yourself later on. 
  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Once you start writing, avoid spending excessive time perfecting one sentence. Just go ahead with your ideas. You can always go back with fresh eyes and make necessary revisions later.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Ask your colleagues for sample documents or find ones online. This saves you and the client time and money and gives you a solid starting point.
  • Know when you are done. After seeing a case four times, you’re likely done researching that issue. It is too easy to vanish down a research rabbit hole. 
  • Tailor your writing to suit your intended audience. Even when drafting legal documents for the court, avoid incorporating unnecessary legal jargon or complex terminology.

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Cassandra Jacobsen



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