Federal appeals arguments must be polished

The Litigation Consulting Report, a publication for attorneys and other legal professionals, has ten recommendations for those who want to make an argument before a federal appeals panel. Those ten recommendations boil down to the fact that you have to know what you are doing and be able to do it well if you want to succeed with such appeals.

The first recommendation is practice. Anyone presenting before an appeals panel has very little time to get their point across, and there are no do-overs. You have to know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.

Introductions and conclusions have to be concise, memorable and and focused on the matter at hand. Appellate judges or those on any agency panel don't have time for long, drawn-out statements. They need the facts from your point of view, but they also need accuracy.

It's also important to remember that appeals courts don't hear new information. Arguments and statements at the appeals level have to rely on what has been entered into the record at the trial level. Failure to base arguments on the record that already exists can result in loss during appeals.

Finally, when presenting an appeal, you have to be ready for questions you might not have anticipated. That means having a very good understanding of both the individual case and the case law. It sounds like a tall order, doesn't it? Luckily, appeals lawyers who are experienced with the process can do all of this for you. It's rare that an attorney would speak before an appeals panel, as many decisions are based on documents and filings, but if there are oral presentations, it's important to have an experienced pro on your side.

Source: The Litigation Consulting Report, "11 Tips for Preparing to Argue at the Federal Circuit," Ryan Flax, accessed June 17, 2016

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