Typically, active-duty judge advocates gain little experience working corrections board actions for their clients. Cases take many months to resolve; by the time the attorney gets a bit of experience under his/her belt, it’s time to move to another assignment.
Here are some suggestions for an effective BCNR/BCMR packet; many ideas are from a Judge Advocates Association conference at Catholic University in Washington DC several years ago.
1. Convince the decision makers that they want to rule for the client. Show them how.
2. Be concise. If the brief is too long, your arguments may not be appreciated. Simplify.
3. Avoid legalistic language
4. Write so that the board can “adopt it.” The board ideally should be able to dictate its opinion from the brief [one good idea is to have a detailed Table of Contents ].
5. Clearly Identify regulations and other authorities cited.
6. Use subheadings to break up the text — and utilize words that are persuasive, not simply to break up the text.
7. Edit and re-edit.
8. Have a theme – a single. point of view from which the entire story can be told – e.g., the petitioner is an eager beaver among the “homesteaders… a serious nondrinker among a group of partygoers…a trooper who arrived on base with a negative, unfair reputation unfairly earned elsewhere.
9. Find something to get a little angry about.
10. Open with a bang.
11. Close with something sharp and emphatic.
12. Make it easy to read; consider:
· Average words per sentence.
· Short paragraphs.
· Simple writing.
· The use of italics, bold, and grayscale, but not to excess.
· Powerful verbs.
More next time on effective corrections board briefs.