Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Federal Court Practitioner Guides on Oral Argument

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I'm often asked by practitioners who are preparing for their first oral argument in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit about good resources regarding what to expect. And my answer's always the same: read the Handbook. The court maintains an excellent Practitioner's Handbook for Appeals. And thank goodness it does. For one thing, the Seventh Circuit is notoriously persnickety about compliance with briefing rules. As the Handbook notes, its clerks flag about 10–15% of briefs tendered for filing as deficient. The Handbook gives detailed advice about how to avoid getting your brief bounced, including four pages on generating an unrejectable jurisdictional statement. The court's advice on brief content requirements nicely fleshes out the requirements of FRAP Rule 28(a) with concrete tips about drafting segments of the brief. And its eight pages on typography in briefs: indispensable. 

The Handbook also isn't half bad as a primer on oral argument. The Seventh Circuit is an oral argument-heavy joint. Unlike in most circuits, oral argument is the norm; with rare exceptions, the court schedules oral argument in all counseled cases. So it's not surprising that a big chunk of the Handbook (nine tersely-written pages) describes the process of oral argument in the circuit. The advice about sound presentation is all excellent.

The Seventh Circuit is not alone in providing a practitioner guide that offers solid tips about oral argument. A few examples, with links that'll jump you to the oral argument stuff:

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Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 5.28.28 PM

And this tattoo-worthy tip:

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https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/appellate_advocacy/2019/09/federal-court-practitioner-guides-on-oral-argument.html

Appellate Advocacy, Federal Appeals Courts, Oral Argument | Permalink

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