Issue-Framing: The Upshot of the Appeal

Iceland – Peter Smythe © 2019

Iceland – Peter Smythe © 2019

In his book, Garner on Language and Writing, Bryan Garner writes of the importance of issue-framing. He quotes Karl Llewellyn, the former dean of Harvard:

[T]he first art is the framing of the issue so that if your framing is accepted, the case comes out your way. Got that? Second, you have to capture the issue, because your opponent will be framing an issue very differently. . . . And third, you have to build a technique of phrasing your issue which not only will help you capture the Court but . . . will stick your capture into the Court's head so that it can't forget it. (Karl N. Llewellyn, A Lecture on Appellate Advocacy, 29 U. Chi. L. Rev. 627, 630 (1962)).

Garner says "Llewellyn's point is the most powerful: the first art is framing the issue so that, if your framing is accepted, you win. The persuasive issue, then, implies only one answer--yours."

In our own briefing, we spend more time framing in the issue than any other single thing we do for a brief.