Five Tips For Writing A Persuasive Brief On The MPT
Five Tips For Writing a Persuasive Brief On The MPT: One of the more common tasks on the MPT is a persuasive brief. For this task, examinees generally must argue in favor of a client in support of a particular position. In this post, we provide you with four tips for writing a persuasive brief on the MPT.
Five Tips For Writing A Persuasive Brief On The MPT
1. Analogize relevant case law.
One of the most persuasive methods of making an argument in an MPT is to show that the facts are very similar to those in a case in the Library in which the court rendered a decision that is favorable to your client’s position. Many students make the mistake of emphatically arguing that a particular view of the facts should be adopted, without relying on any authority. Showing how the facts are similar (or dissimilar) to case law provided in the Library explains to the court that there is authority supporting the argument to take a particular position, and makes the argument much stronger. A good starting point when reading through the Library is to note which cases have an outcome that would be favorable to your client and which cases are not helpful for your client. Analogize to the “helpful” cases in your analysis section of your brief!
2. Distinguish cases that do not support your point.
Often, the Task Memo will instruct examinees to anticipate the other party’s arguments and make counter-arguments. (Make sure to follow the express directions of the Task Memo!). Many students fail to complete this part of the assignment. Often, they either do not spot the anticipated arguments, or they simply run out of time. Try to practice this important task as you do practice MPTs. That way, you get an idea of what the counter-arguments might look like, how to present them, and how to attack them!
3. Explain, rather than re-state, the facts that support your argument.
Don’t assume that the reader knows the facts and will see the point you are trying to make. Furthermore, do not simply re-state the facts and assume that the reader will see why they are relevant. For each fact that you cite to, show the reader why it is relevant and how it supports your argument.
The following example comes from the February 2010 MPT, State of Franklin v. McLain, which asked examinees to write a persuasive brief regarding the credibility of an anonymous tip reporting a crime (among other things). The first paragraph simply restates the facts, while the second paragraph makes a compelling argument:
Here, the caller who provided the tip stated that he saw a person buying coffee filters and two boxes cold medication. Also, the caller said he heard the defendant ask the cashier if the store sold lighter fluid. The police admitted that two boxes of cold medication likely would not produce a substantial quantity of methamphetamine. This is insufficient evidence to suggest that the defendant was engaged in criminal activity.
The format of this paragraph restates the facts, and then quickly reaches a conclusion without any analysis. Compare that to the following paragraph that incorporates analysis, making the argument much more persuasive:
Here, the caller who provided the tip stated that he saw a person buying coffee filters and two boxes of cold medication, but those items are not illegal, and that action, on its own, does not constitute criminal activity. The caller also stated that he heard the defendant ask the cashier if the store sold lighter fluid, which also is not a criminal act. Even the police admitted that the amount of cold medication the defendant purchased was insufficient to produce a significant amount of methamphetamine, further illustrating that the defendant’s actions did not constitute criminal activity. For these reasons, the anonymous tip was insufficient to alert the police to the presence of criminal activity.
In the second paragraph, the language is more persuasive because the examinee tells the reader the importance of each fact and shows the reader how each fact further proves the argument. Be sure to use strong language to really emphasize your arguments!
4. Minimize unfavorable facts.
Your MPT will most likely contain facts that do not support the position you need to argue. Instead of simply ignoring those unfavorable facts, distinguish or minimize them! To do this, show how the facts of your case are different from the facts of an unfavorable case in the Library. Or, perhaps you argue that the facts of your case are vague and/or ambiguous, and therefore are not relevant to the issues presented.
5. Make sure your arguments are consistent.
Finally, make sure that your arguments in the Discussion section match the summary of your arguments in the Introduction and the Conclusion. Your brief becomes less persuasive if your conclusions do not match up!
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