Maximizing Your Chances for Oral Argument

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Appellate attorneys must be prepared to answer the one question that clients will inevitably ask, “Will we get oral argument?” The short answer is, “Maybe, if you ask nicely.”

In most instances, both parties to an appeal have sig­nificant reasons to seek oral argument. For the appellant, even the most minimally involved client will have lived through a loss in the district court, as well as the ardu­ous process of drafting two complex appellate briefs. The appellant will be eager for the opportunity to have their story persuasively communicated to a distinguished panel of appellate judges. Former Minnesota Supreme Court Jus­tice John Simonett was once asked if the appellant should ever waive oral argument. After reflecting on the ques­tion for a moment, he responded, “It’s a lot like propos­ing marriage—I suppose you could do it just in writing.”

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