By Dayo Benson & Onozure Danial
In fulfilment of one of its statutory functions of providing continuous legal education for lawyers and judicial officers, the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies, Nials, has organised a training programme for lawyers in Lagos.
The one day training which was held at the University of Lagos campus of the institute with the topic “Brief Writing and Advocacy Skills” was organised in conjunction with the Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA.
Designed to further boost capacity of legal practitioners, the event which drew lawyers from private law firms featured paper presentations in related topics by resource persons.
Former chairman of NBA session on Business law Mr George Etomi, whose paper was titiled techniques of effective address and brief writing, said that lawyers should ensure they understood their client’s cases and the issues that needed to be resolved before writing briefs.
According to him, the principal consideration of counsel in writing an address or brief is to arrange or present his client’s case in a compelling manner. He must also be gracious enough to ensure that the court or arbiter becomes aware of the case he is presenting. Thus, the practitioner must from the onset ask himself certain questions that will guide or direct his drafts.
“What is your case? What is the case of the other side? What is the issue that has to be resolved?
Speaking further he said that, there are considerations that apply to written addresses and brief writing in appellate Courts and a practitioner must pay more than cursory attention to these matters, namely; style, accuracy, honesty, clarity, presentation of argument, avoiding insulting, abusive or derogatory language, citation of authorities, books, articles, cases, reference to documents or exhibits and departure from decisions etc”.
Dr Emmanuel Okon, who spoke on Legal research and brief writing, advised lawyers to carry out researches on brief writing and also to be ICT compliant.
Also speaking at the event Dr E.A Emmanuel whose paper dulled on the Language of Law, said “that although much of the act of litigation and the business of law is founded upon argumentation, the brief is perhaps the most argumentative genre in legal discourse.”
Brief writing, unlike oral advocacy, allows for much room to tighten one’s arguments, as long as adequate pre-brief writing preparations have been made.