Friday, April 26, 2013

Do judges expect lawyers to say “May it please the Court”?

Beginning an oral argument with the phrase “May it please the Court” is a well-entrenched tradition: Bryan Garner reported in the April ABA Journal that he found uses of it going back to Shakespeare’s time. When Garner asked several judges what they think of the phrase, one judge said it’s better than an informal “Hi,” another said he doesn’t care whether lawyers use it, and a third said she always notes its absence. Overall, Garner concluded, “The consensus seems to be that it won’t really help, but it certainly can’t hurt.”

When I practiced law in Los Angeles, our senior partner thought "May it please the court" was pompous, and he began his arguments, "Good morning, your honor." And he did pretty well.


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