An important element of the legal brief format is the cover. The first item that will be read by the justices, the cover not only provides basic information about the case, it can also convey subtly profound cues about the quality of the argument contained within the pages.

The Facts

legal brief format coverRule 34.1 lays out the required text that must be included on the cover. The following is a list of the the necessary elements.

A Supreme Court brief cover must contain the following items, in top-to-bottom order:

  • The docket number, or if the brief is a petition, a space for the Clerk’s Office to stamp the docket number that it will assign.
  • “In The Supreme Court Of The United States”
  • A caption with the parties’ names.
  • A line that describes the stage of proceedings, and the lower court where the writ might be or has been directed. “On Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,” or, “On Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Kansas.”
  • The title of the document.
  • The contact information block for the attorney, or attorneys, filing the brief.

The text on the cover will help the Clerk’s Office properly file and docket the brief. It will also let the reader effectively manage the task of reviewing the brief along with the other documents filed in the matter.

The Legal Brief Format

The reason we have a saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” is because, of course, we are constantly judging books by their covers. The human mind seeks meaning through context, and the human justices who read Supreme Court briefs are certain to be influenced, at least to some measure, by the covers that wrap the briefs.

The legal brief format of the cover offers an important opportunity to convey the aesthetic values held by the drafter. A clean, well-ordered, and carefully-reviewed cover will prepare the reader to absorb an argument laid out with similar virtues. A cover that is both distinctive and distinguished can lend an air of dignity to the drafter’s words within.

Here is an example of a Cockle Legal Brief cover. Our proprietary legal brief format style is instantly recognizable to the Court, and to seasoned SCOTUS watchers around the world.

If you would like a Cockle cover to introduce your next Supreme Court brief, contact us to schedule your filing.