Why the Table of Contents is the Most Important Part of Your Brief

Fourth in a series of 5 TypeLaw blogs on the future of digital legal briefs based on ABA research

If you view a brief as the map to a case, the table of contents is the navigation point that directs you to the information you need to find your ultimate destination. A good table of contents is key for everyone interacting with the brief -attorneys, judges, court staff, legal assistants- to get the best information in the shortest amount of time. In a digital brief for a large case referencing multiple statutes, rulings, and cases, it is important for the table of contents to be organized for the reader to easily find items and go directly to them while reading the brief. 

The table of contents works alongside bookmarks to allow the reader to easily find arguments and go directly to them on a digital brief. In the transition from paper to digital briefs, it is essential to have a strong table of contents to direct the reader to the different parts of a brief, especially for long, complex cases with a high volume of citations. Style counts in a table of contents, and using the correct, standard typography (fonts, typefaces, spacing, formatting, et al) contributes to the difference between a great brief and a mediocre brief. TypeLaw solves this issue for attorneys by automating the formatting for digital briefs to fit the standard, recommended typography. This takes the stress behind formatting a brief off attorneys and support staff, freeing time to spend crafting the text of the brief. 

A brief can be viewed as the most important tool in an attorney’s toolbox to effectively represent a client and win their case by presenting a solid argument rooted in logic. The table of contents is the backbone of a strong brief as it provides the map for the argument presented by the attorney for their side of the case. This is especially true in appellate briefs, which are generally reliant on statutory law and public policy to support the arguments made within. Keeping in mind that a judge is reviewing numerous cases with large amounts of supporting documentation at any given time, it is critical to provide a logical map to your argument within a brief, and a strong table of contents is one of the most effective ways to build your case to the reader.

Click here for Part 5.

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