Appellate Insights

Jan 13, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
What Are Friends For?

Amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs are an ever-expanding dimension of appellate practice. Here are some pointers to consider in soliciting or writing them:

  • Amicus briefs can serve various functions, from providing factual/industry context to raising legal arguments that the parties missed. They should not merely parrot the arguments in the merits briefing.
  • Amici can be particularly impactful when the California Supreme Court is deciding whether to grant review in a case.  Short amicus letters explaining why an issue matters to groups other than the parties can shore up a petitioner’s claim that the case merits the Court’s attention.
  • Amicus briefs mean extra reading for busy courts. Keep them short and punchy, and make sure the main points are apparent from even a quick skim of the table of contents.

►  The practical message:  Amicus briefs can be a useful tool in significant cases, particularly if they concisely offer a unique perspective.