Oral Arguments Guide for Counsel - page 7

GUIDE FOR COUNSEL
Page | 5
E.
YOUR ARGUMENT
Effective attorneys demonstrate a commanding knowledge of the facts and law at issue;
articulate issues clearly and concisely; and answer the Judge's questions promptly, directly,
and incisively. A superior oral argument illustrates that counsels' preparedness and
understanding of protocol better enable the Judges to efficiently probe and comprehend the
parties' arguments.
Examples of oral arguments before the Court are located in an "Audio" file on the Court's
website,
, under "Oral Arguments."
1.
Preparation
Remember that briefs are different from oral argument. A complex issue might take up a
large portion of your brief, but there might be no need to argue that issue. Merits briefs should
contain a logical review of all issues in the case. Oral arguments are not designed to summarize
briefs, but to present the opportunity to stress the main issues of the case that might persuade the
Court in your favor.
Some counsel find it useful to have a section in their notes entitled "cut to the chase." They
refer to that section in the event that most of their time has been consumed by answering questions
posed by the Judges. Consulting a list of essential issues allows counsel to efficiently use the few
precious minutes remaining to stress main points.
If your argument focuses on case law, statute, regulation, or other enactment, be sure that
the authority is printed in full in one of your pleadings so that you can refer the Judges to it and
they can look at it during your argument.
Do not bring numerous volumes to the lectern. One notebook will suffice. Some brave
counsel know their cases so well, they argue without any notes.
Be well acquainted with the entire body of law that relates to each issue, not just the cases
you cite in your brief.
Know the record, especially the procedural history of the case. Be prepared to answer a
question such as: "Why didn't you make a motion for expedited consideration?" You have the
opportunity to emphasize the most salient facts. Judges occasionally ask where a fact can be found
in the record. It is impressive when you can respond with the page where the information is
located. It is also quite effective to quote from the record of proceedings.
Do not make assertions about issues or facts not in the record. Know your client's claim.
Know the circumstances of your client's medical examinations, names of physicians, dates of
examinations, and whether there are conflicting opinions.
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