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Los Angeles County Bar Association
The briefs are everything (almost).
A singular difference between the trial court and the Court of Appeal is the central importance of your written work. 
In the trial court, you have many opportunities to interact with the court and therefore many opportunities to present your views and to change your approach as the case evolves.  In the Court of Appeal, your only opportunity may be your briefs – and if you’re the respondent in an appeal or the real party in interest in a writ petition, you only get one brief.  Oral argument rarely matters – by the time you appear for argument, the court has thoroughly reviewed, researched and considered the issues and often has already reached some tentative conclusions about the outcome. 

You need to take the necessary time to think about how to persuasively present your issues and arguments and to write them.  There is no substitute for careful thought, focused writing, and assiduous editing and proofreading.  You will not do your best work by waiting until the last minute.

Does this mean you shouldn’t bother with oral argument?  No – because there’s no way to know whether your case is one of the few in which oral argument will make a real difference. 

But that’s a subject for another Your First.
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