Research guides

Pennsylvania Appellate Law and Practice

Writing Appellate Briefs

When writing an appellate brief, it is important to follow the correct format.

In Pennsylvania, this is generally laid out in the court rules. See, for example:

Pa.R.A.P. Chapter 21 (R. 2101-2189) - Briefs and Reproduced Record

Secondary sources often provide additional guidance. See, for example:

"The brief is a party’s opportunity to present in concise and structured form the issues, facts, and law under review. The rules relating to the form and content of briefs are intended to facilitate such a review. ... Failure to conform to the applicable requirements for briefs and reproduced records may result in sanctions as can the failure to file on time." Dunlap-Hanna Pennsylvania Forms, § 231.30.

Many of the resources listed below provide additional information, including explanations and citations to relevant cases, on writing appellate briefs.

Court Rules

When participating in a court case, it is important to follow the correct set of court rules. The Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure (Pa.R.A.P.) are freely available online in Title 210 of the Pennsylvania Code. Select rules address writing briefs. Please note that additional rules may also apply.

Pa.R.A.P. Chapter 21 (R. 2101-2189) - Briefs and Reproduced Record

Research Tip

For additional places to find Pennsylvania Court Rules, including in print and on the library's Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law computers, see the Pennsylvania Court Rules - State guide.

Member Databases

The following member database includes information regarding writing appellate briefs in Pennsylvania. Members must be logged in to jenkinslaw.org to access this database. This database is also available in the library.

The chapters/sections listed below are included as a starting place for that resource. Additional chapters/sections may apply. Consult the index or conduct a search in the resource to find additional material.

Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia
Available on the LexisNexis Digital Library. See "Appeals" (vol. 2) Chapter 10: Briefs.
Also on the library's Lexis computers and in print.

Onsite Print & Electronic

The following print resources include information regarding writing appellate briefs in Pennsylvania. Some resources published by LexisNexis and West/Thomson Reuters may be available on the library's Lexis and Westlaw computers. See below for more information.

The chapters/sections listed below are included as a starting place for that resource. Additional chapters/sections may apply. Consult the index or conduct a search in the resource to find additional material.

Dunlap-Hanna Pennsylvania Forms LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers.
See §§ 231.30 - 231.41.

Pennsylvania Appellate Practice West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers. Also referred to as Darlington.
See Chapter 21: Briefs and Reproduced Record.

Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers and the LexisNexis Digital Library.
See "Appeals" Chapter 10: Briefs.

Pennsylvania Civil Practice Handbook Bisel
See § 37.9: Appellate Briefs.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Civil Practice Manual Pennsylvania Bar Institute
See § 15-10.10: Briefs. Library has previous editions: see all.

Standard Pennsylvania Practice 2d West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers.
See Chapter 89: Appellate Briefs.

West's Pennsylvania Forms West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers.
See Civil Procedure, Part XV, Chapter 63, Subpart H: Brief and Reproduced Record (§§ 63:80 - 63:125).

PBI Publications

In conjunction with its continuing legal education courses, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) produces books covering various appellate practice topics. Some of these concentrate on more specific or unusual areas of the law. When a researcher has difficulty finding an answer in the manuals or form books, it is a good idea to turn to a PBI publication for guidance.

Advanced Appellate Advocacy
See Chapter 1: Appellate Advocacy - From Trial to Appeal, including Part III: Appellate writing as an Art, Part IV: Objectives of the Appellate Brief, Part VII: Requirements for Appellate Brief, and Part VIII: Reply Brief.

Appellate Advocacy in PA State Courts
See Chapter 1: Written Advocacy - Tools to Persuade Your Reader.

How to Appeal a Commercial Case in the PA Courts
See Chapter B: Appellate Issues, Briefs.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Civil Practice Manual
See § 15-10.10: Briefs. Library has previous editions: see all.

Preventing Nightmares: Preserving Issues and Avoiding Waiver at Trial and on Appeal
See Chapter 7: Technical Requirements for Briefs Pursuant to Chapter 21 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Winning (or Not Losing) Your Case on Appeal
See Chapter 4: How NOT to Write an Appellate Brief.