I’ve made it known that when I have my druthers, I use footnotes in briefs. I began to use footnotes when, through my independent studying of legal writing, I became convinced that it makes for a clearer brief when you use sentences and paragraphs to argue rather than string citations. When you move all the citations to the bottom of the page, you can better see what kind of argument you have made—so no more one-sentence paragraphs with a ten-line string citation. I began to pull holdings and analysis out of the parentheticals to give them their due place in the body of the brief.
This practice came with the added benefit of being able to easily edit the citations because they were all in one place. You can also see the exhibits that you are citing without have to go through the text.
In a recent summary judgment motion I drafted, I appreciated my footnotes for a whole new reason. An attorney in California, Michael Tracy, has created a script called Transcript Marker for Adobe Acrobat that will mark—whether by highlighting, with brackets, with a box, or some combination thereof—a PDF deposition transcript and extract the cited pages, saving a lot of time in creating the exhibits for a brief. So I installed the program, and, using my footnotes, typed the citations into Transcript Marker, and could very quickly create the exhibit of deposition excerpts.
Not only does Transcript Marker make it quick to put together the exhibit, but it improves the reader’s experience in finding the pertinent citations. In Georgia, the deposition transcript is not required to be highlighted, but neither is it prohibited. Highlighting the citations will easily point the judge to the testimony supporting your argument, a nice complement to strong legal writing.
Thanks to Michael for developing this great tool and making it available for free. Thanks also goes to Rick Borstein’s Acrobat for Legal Professionals Blog for his post on Michael’s Transcript Marker.
If you need help on your next summary judgment motion or any other brief, let’s talk about your project.