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  • July 21, 2020

    Meet the Brief-Writing Champions of Appellate Practice Section’s Best Brief Competition

    Meet the champions of the Appellate Practice Section’s third Best Briefs Competition. What did it take to find them? Jacques Condon talks about the winners and the competition.

    Jacques C. Condon

    On July 15, 2020, the Appellate Practice Section announced its winners of its third Best Briefs competition. The biennial competition looks for excellence in brief writing amongst the Wisconsin bar.

    Because appellate practice centers around brief writing, the competition’s goal is to recognizes personal achievement that also aids appellate attorneys striving to improve their writing and argumentation skills.

    To be chosen is no easy task. First, it takes nomination. Anyone can nominate a brief – the authors, colleagues, friends, judges, clerks, or other admirers of great legal writing – with it an honor to simply be nominated.

    Jacques C. Condon Jacques C. Condon, Marquette 1999, is owner of Condon Law Firm, LLC, in Thiensville, handling civil litigation, business law, and problem-solving cases.

    Second, volunteers from the Appellate Practice Section narrow the number of briefs – from nearly 50 submissions – to a field of 20. This year the narrowing was informative, somewhat educational, and certainly a tall order – the competition saw a record-number of submissions, at all levels of appellate practice in both the state and federal courts.

    Once narrowed, the third and final step is review by a select panel of judges. This year’s final review was by Justice David Prosser, Judge Kitty Brennan, and Judge Paul Higginbotham. All volunteered their time in winnowing out the winners. The author-submissions are anonymous – the competition was intended to select briefs that stood out as particularly easy to read, well-argued, and persuasive.

    The judge panel selected four briefs as the winning submissions, with five winning authors.

    Those authors are now honored for their achievement. Joseph A. Bugni wrote U.S. v. Sahm, as presented to the Seventh Circuit, with Shelley Fite honored for her brief in a related case, United States v. Franklin, in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Ryan J. Walsh and Kevin M. LeRoy were recognized for their brief in Minerva Dairy v. Harsdorf, as presented to the Seventh Circuit. Ryan Walsh was again honored along with Sopen B. Shah for writing in Porter v. State as presented to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    All four submissions represent excellent briefs for the reader, the court, the practitioner and the profession.

    Looking to judge your brief based on the winners, need some writing tips, or simply want a sample for your future writing? See the article, with links to the briefs, in the July 15, 2020, issue of InsideTrack.

    You can find discussions of past award-winning briefs in the Dec. 21, 2016, and June 20, 2018, issues of InsideTrack.

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    Sua Sponte is published by the Appellate Practice Section and the State Bar of Wisconsin; blog posts are written by section members. To contribute to this blog, contact Jacques Condon and review Author Submission Guidelines. Learn more about the Appellate Practice Section or become a member.

    Disclaimer: Views presented in blog posts are those of the blog post authors, not necessarily those of the Section or the State Bar of Wisconsin. Due to the rapidly changing nature of law and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the State Bar of Wisconsin makes no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or completeness of this content.

    © 2023 State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158.

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