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How to Format a Persuasive Brief on the MPT

If you struggle with writing a persuasive brief on the MPT, we have you covered! This sample persuasive brief is based upon the February 2013 MPT In re Guardianship of Will Fox.

General Overview of a Persuasive Brief

A persuasive brief is composed of the following structure. (Note that we go into more detail about what each of these sections means, below. So this is just a general overview!)

  • Caption (usually you are told to omit this)
  • Statement of the case (usually you are told to omit this)
  • Statement of facts (only include if the instructions tell you to!)
  • Legal argument
    • Heading 1
    • Heading 2
    • Heading 3 . . .
  • Conclusion

Note that if you are wondering the purposes of a persuasive brief please see this post prior to reviewing in more detail how to structure a persuasive brief.

A More Detailed Guide to Formatting a Persuasive Brief:


Usually you will be instructed to omit a caption. However, if this is not the case, make sure to begin your persuasive brief with one. The file will contain a brief from the opposing party – you can refer to this to help you create the caption for your brief.

Example of a caption:

State of Franklin

District Court of Oak County

In the Matter of the Petition of

Don and Frances Loden

For Guardianship and Temporary Custody of

Will Fox, a minor (DOB 1/3/03)

Brief in Support of the Motion to Transfer Case to Blackhawk Tribal Court

Statement of the case:

Generally you will be instructed to omit the statement of the case. However, if instructed to include a statement of the case, make it your next paragraph. Include the following information (if possible):

  • A statement of the parties (Who is involved in the lawsuit?)
  • The nature of the case (e.g., motion for a preliminary injunction)
  • Issue in dispute (e.g., lack of personal jurisdiction)
  • Posture of the case, if relevant (e.g., discovery completed)
  • The client’s requested relief (e.g., grant the motion to dismiss)

Example of a statement of the case:

Respondents, Don Loden and Frances Loden, are the maternal grandparents of the Minor Indian child, Will Fox. Betty Fox petitions the court to transfer the Lodens’ Petition for Guardianship and Temporary Custody to Tribal Court pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

Statement of facts:

Do not include a statement of facts unless the task memo instructs you to do so. If instructed to include a statement of facts, make that your next section. The statement of facts should be no longer than six or seven sentences. Use the facts in the task memo to get started.

Legal argument:

Then write the legal argument section of the persuasive brief. Each issue should have a heading that applies the law to the facts and states a conclusion. Use the directions in the task memo to help you determine which issues to address.

Here, we must discuss whether all of the requirements to transfer a case to Tribal Court under ICWA have been satisfied.

Examples of headings:

  • The proceeding in the state court concerns the foster care placement of a Minor, Will Fox.
  • The minor is an Indian Child under ICWA because he is a member of the Blackhawk Tribe.
  • The Minor is not domiciled or residing within the Blackhawk Reservation.
  • Good cause to decline the transfer motion does not exist.
  • The Minor’s parents have not objected to the transfer of jurisdiction.
  • The movant, Betty Fox, is the Indian custodian of the Minor.

Under each of the headings, state the relevant rule of law that you extracted from the library and apply the facts from the file to those rules. Even though there are six elements to discuss, each element is not  analyzed in the same amount of detail. Look to the cases to determine how detailed your discussion should be and allocate your time accordingly. Use persuasive language in your brief, but make sure to explain or distinguish any unfavorable law.


The last section of the persuasive brief is the conclusion. The conclusion should summarize your legal argument and reinforce the conclusions you made above. The conclusion does not need be longer than three or four sentences. Proofread your conclusion to ensure that it is consistent with what you wrote earlier in your persuasive brief.

Example of a conclusion:

In the Custody of R.M., Congress emphasized that tribal jurisdiction over child custody proceedings is necessary to ensure the survival of Indian communities and the welfare of their children. The Movant, Betty Fox, satisfied each of the elements under ICWA  required to transfer the child custody case from state court to Tribal Court. The Respondents are unable to prove that good cause exists to decline the transfer. Therefore, this Court must transfer the case to the Blackhawk Tribal Court.

*This sample persuasive brief is based upon the February 2013 MPT In re Guardianship of Will Fox.

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