Judge Richard Clifton of the Ninth Circuit recently offered tips for oral argument in an appeal. The hour-long video of his and two attorneys’ CLE is below.
Five of Judge Clifton’s many points are:
- Simplify – be able to tell a non-lawyer in a few sentences why you should win and why your conclusion makes sense.
- Know the record and the cases – be able to answer “Where is that in the record?” “What is your best case?”
- Answer the question – listen closely to the judge’s question, answer it directly, and then explain if necessary.
- Engage in an informed conversation – speak as if you were talking to a knowledgeable friend and not as making an emotional plea to a jury.
- Maintain credibility – admit you don’t know the answer if you don’t know. Do not say “I wasn’t trial counsel” or “That question isn’t our case.” The judges know that their hypothetical is not your case; that is why it is a hypothetical.
Anyone else have other tips to add? Please leave a reply or reach me here.