Persuasive Appellate Brief Writing (IL)

Audio program! (check our CLE Programs page for live versions)

This seminar will show you how to draft a clear, persuasive appellate brief in both federal and state appellate courts.

With an increasing number of appellate cases submitted on the briefs without oral argument, written advocacy has never been more important.

Both new and experienced appellate practitioners will gain valuable insight into effective legal writing from the perspective of long-term appellate court personnel. This seminar will provide concrete and practical tips for writing a persuasive appellate brief from the cover page to the conclusion.



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What You Will Learn

  • How to minimize the time you spend drafting an appellate brief
  • How to please the three audiences for every brief
  • How to present the facts to tell your client’s story
  • Why the standard of review is important
  • How to improve your argument headings
  • Why you should give the court a clear road map of your argument
  • How to structure and develop winning arguments
  • How to avoid some common pitfalls in using legal authority
  • Why the format and mechanics of an appellate brief matter
  • How to use the conclusion to get what you want
  • Tips for more effective writing
  • How to edit your own writing and the writing of others


“Excellent! Very clear, interesting presentation with lots of concrete examples illustrating points.” Erica N. Rogina, Esq.

“[Materials were] excellent – especially the checklists.”  Linda Kagan, Esq.

“Very specific useful examples.”  Erica N. Rogina, Esq.

“The speakers did a very good job.  Their extensive experience came through.”  Michael P. Hannigan, Esq.

“[Speaker is] quite clear and effective without speaking down. Tied contents into personal experience well.” Robert Schwaba, Esq.

“I like the handout. Will be useful in the future as I work.” Katerine Donat, Esq.

“Great speakers!  Very personable.  I felt like [speaker] was having a conversation rather than lecturing.”  Tanisha Jones, Esq.

“Strong in knowledge and experience.”  Geri Gashkoff, Esq.

“[Speaker] did a great job! She’s a pro!”

“Very knowledgable – experience showed.”

“I learned more than I expected to – great examples!”

“Good motivation!”

“[Speaker is] an excellent, engaging speaker.”

“I found the practical tips based on personal experience helpful.”

“Excellent presentation format – encouraging audience participation.”

“Great job! Very good presentation and very professional.”

“Very helpful to hear from someone who reads the briefs.”

“Really great and helpful.”


“Quite good.”

“The examples are very helpful.”

“A positive experience!”

“Materials are very helpful for the presentation.”

“Very practical.”

“Nice presentation.  The speakers were very knowledgable.”

“[Speaker’s] perspective as a reader of briefs was helpful.”

“Good detail!”

“Very helpful for inexperienced appellate attorneys.”

“Very smart.  Really good job.”

“Dynamic speaker.”

“Good energy.”

“Provided good tips.”



Mary Patricia Kerns, Esq.
Career Judicial Clerk
Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District

Mary Pat Kerns has been a judicial clerk for several different justices over eighteen years at the Illinois Appellate Court.  Ms. Kerns also spent six years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Appeals Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s office.  In that capacity, she represented numerous State agencies and employees on appeal and argued before the Illinois Supreme Court, courts in all Illinois Appellate Districts and before the 7th Circuit.  In the 1980’s Ms. Kerns practiced civil litigation in a private firm and as an Assistant Attorney General.  She received her law degree from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in 1982 and was a member of the Loyola Law Journal.

Nadine J. Wichern, Esq.

Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Nadine J. Wichern recently returned to the Office of the Illinois Attorney General in Chicago.  Previously, she was Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Appeals Division of the City of Chicago Department of Law.  In that capacity, Nadine represented the City, its officials, and its employees in cases before state and federal reviewing courts. Nadine previously served for five years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Appeals Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. 

In March 2005, Nadine completed a term as a United States Supreme Court Fellow through the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C.  As a fellow, she participated in moot courts, attended oral arguments, and filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of twenty-one states regarding the dormant commerce clause in ATA v. Michigan Public Serv. Comm’n. 

Nadine has also taught appellate advocacy, a required course for second-year law students at Loyola University School of Law, for seven years, and has taught a legal writing course at DePaul University College of Law. 

Immediately after graduating from law school, Nadine served as a law clerk to the Honorable William J. Bauer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  During law school, Nadine also externed for Judge Bauer for two semesters, was awarded six CALI awards, was chosen for Order of the Coif, and was the Managing Editor of Notes and Comments for the DePaul Law Review.  Prior to attending law school, Nadine earned her bachelor’s degree in both history and political science, with a minor in English.

John Philip Schmidt, Esq.
Senior Assistant Attorney General
Office of Attorney General

John Schmidt has served in the Civil Appeals Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s office since 1992.  He has also served as a staff attorney for the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, a law clerk for Illinois Appellate Court Justice Marvin Dunn, and a staff attorney for the Office of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor.  John has litigated cases in the Illinois Appellate Court, Illinois Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and United States Supreme Court.  He graduated from the DePaul University College of Law in 1983.


Audio Course Material Package Download: $295

Audio Course Material Package CD: $295, plus $7.50 shipping and, in CA, sales tax.

CLE Credit

This program is no longer pre-approved for CLE units in IL. However, you may still submit it on your own and we will provide back up as needed and it got great reviews so you don’t want to miss it!

Upon request, we will assist attorneys in asking for CLE credit in other states. 

Terms and Policies

Recording policy: No audio or video recording of any program is permitted.

Seminar Cancellations: Should you be unable to attend for any reason, please inform us in writing no later than 14 days prior to the event and a credit voucher will be issued. If you prefer, a refund, less a $50 non-refundable deposit, will be issued. No refunds or credits will be given for cancellations received within 14 days of an event. However, if you notify us within 14 days of an event, and wish to convert your in-person attendance registration to an Audio CD package (with handout), we can do so. A small additional shipping charge, and sales tax in CA, will be incurred. No shipping charge is incurred for downloads. We will also issue a voucher for the amount paid if you notify us within 14 days and prefer not to have the audio recording.

Substitutions may be made at any time.

Webinars, Tele-seminars and Webcast Cancellations: Once log-in codes and passwords are issued for a webinar, tele-seminars or webcasts, a refund is not possible. If for any reason you cannot attend the event after you have received the codes, we will automatically convert your registration to an instant streaming/instant download or CD format and provide you with the information you need to access the recording after the program concludes and the recording is available.  Conversions to CD require a $7.50 shipping fee, and in CA, 9% sales tax.

Downloads/CDs/DVDs – Refund policy:

Downloads are non-returnable/non-refundable once purchased and received. Tapes, CDs and DVDs are returnable for a full refund or replacement if defective, within 90 days of purchase.


$295.00 each

October 16, 2009  |  Chicago, IL