A summary of the important points of a longer document. An abstract of a published judicial opinion prepared by a law student as part of an assignment in the CASE METHOD study of law. A written document drawn up by an attorney for a party in a lawsuit or by a party himself or herself appearing pro se that concisely states the following: (1) issues of a lawsuit; (2) facts that bring the parties to court; (3) relevant laws that can affect the subject of the dispute; and (4) arguments that explain how the law applies to the particular facts so that the case will be decided in the party's favor.
A brief may also contain a synopsis of the evidence and name the witnesses to be presented during the trial. Copies of briefs must be submitted to the court where the case will be heard and to the opposing party.
An appellate brief is a writing that must be filed with an appellate court so that the court may evaluate whether the decision of the lower court should be reversed because of some error or impropriety that occurred during the trial. A statement of the issues presented for review, a summary of how pertinent laws affect the facts, and a statement of the relief being requested are essential elements of an appellate brief. The appellee's brief will argue that the lower court acted properly in its judgment and request its affirmance, while the appellant's brief will attempt to convince the court to reverse or vacate the lower court's judgment because it acted improperly.
See also the Milestones in the Law and Appendix volumes for examples.