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Hyperlinked Briefs and Why They Matter

As most courts have now fully transitioned to e-filing, litigators are presented with an opportunity to significantly improve the way a judge interacts with their briefs, in turn making it easier for the judge to adopt their position.

What is a hyperlinked brief/ebrief?

A hyperlinked brief (sometimes called an e-brief) is a brief that has citations that are hyperlinked to make it easy for the reader to click on a citation to quickly navigate to the material being cited.

Why is a hyperlinked brief important?

Adding pin-point hyperlinks to citations creates a smooth experience for the reader to quickly jump from your brief to the specific portion of the case (or other authority) you are citing to, and back. When a judge needs to stop mid brief to manually search and pull up the case you are citing, then find the specific paragraph within that case, you’ve lost their attention and focus for 30-60 seconds or more in the middle of your argument. Once they do find it and get back to your brief, they’ve probably lost the flow of thought you’ve so carefully laid out for them.

Hyperlinked brief vs non-hyperlinked brief

Different types of hyperlinked briefs

There are different types of hyperlinked briefs. These differences can be broken down into a combination of the extent of citations hyperlinked and the types of links used.

Extent of citations hyperlinked

  1. Briefs that only contains links to authority.
  2. Briefs that only contain links to the record.
  3. Briefs that contain links to authority and the record (this is often called an e-brief).

Types of links used

  1. Internal links: Embedding a PDF of source material into the brief PDF and creating links that navigate internally to these parts of the brief. This results in a huge PDF file that usually exceeds the file size limitations of e-filing portals and may cause performance issues when reading on an underpowered iPad/tablet.
  2. External links: Adding links to an external website that hosts a copy of the cited source material (e.g. CaseText, WestLaw, or LexisNexis). We prefer hyperlinking to a service where you do not need a login/account to view the cited source material. The “paywall” imposed by some services can sometimes lead to issues/delays when trying to quickly open a cited authority.

Recommendations when hyperlinking your brief

Now that we understand the value of hyperlinking your brief and the different ways you can hyperlink your citations, here are some tips when creating your hyperlinked briefs:

  1. Create links to the specific page/pin of the source you are citing. This extra effort goes a long way and is appreciated by the court.
  2. Add links to the record to further improve the reader’s experience.
  3. Use hyperlinks to external websites instead of embedding source material PDFs into your brief.
  4. Use paywall-free legal research hosting websites (CaseText links are accessible without an account).

Hyperlinks are highly recommended by most courts and even required by some. At TypeLaw, we’ve built an AI-powered service that can quickly hyperlink your cites to authority and the record. For hyperlinks to authority, we prefer citing to CaseText as this allows the reader to bypass any “paywall” restrictions. For citations to the record, we’ve built a platform that securely hosts and quickly opens up a specific cited page without having to wait to download the whole document.

Want to see what a TypeLaw hyperlinked brief looks like? Download a sample hyperlinked brief at www.typelaw.com.