In preparing an appeal, most attorneys focus heavily on the briefs.  A recent publication by the ABA’s Council of Appellate Lawyers begins with two often repeated phrases: “You can lose a case at oral argument, but you cannot win it” and “Oral argument is not important.”  But are these statements necessarily true?

A collection of articles on oral arguments published by the ABA in August 2013 is a worthwhile read for both veteran and first-time oral argument advocates alike.  The articles provide insight into why a court might grant oral argument and how to prepare for oral argument (including facing “back-to-back” oral arguments or orally arguing a case for the first time).

Judge Andre Davis of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal also made an interesting statement regarding the level of preparation expected of oral argument advocates: “A lawyer who prepares for argument properly will never be paid for all the effort because he or she will spend more time than is reasonably necessary reviewing the record, preparing the brief, participating in moot courts, updating the research, and having at hand the key record citations and the important cases.”  Do you find this to be the case?

–Beth Scherer

Hat Tip to Gary Beaver for bringing this collection of oral argument articles to our attention!