Oral Argument Rituals

By October 26, 2008March 8th, 2019Oral Argument

Over at MyShingle.com, Carolyn Elefant has posted on some of the things she does to prepare for oral argument and has solicited others’ stories.  Here is what I told her:

I don’t have what I would consider to be rituals or superstitions. It’s more of a process.

I generally go back and read all the briefs and important cases, then check to see if any new on-point decisions have come out since the briefs were filed.  I’ll then outline my argument, paying particular attention to the weak points in my case and questions I think I’m likely to get from the bench.  Finally, I boil my outline down to a one-page flowchart listing the most important or hard-to-remember points and case names.

I put whatever I think is important in a 1" black binder that I take to the podium with me, but I don’t usually look at it much. I try to be as conversational as I can.

Do you have an oral argument ritual?  If so, please feel free to share it by commenting here or to Carolyn’s original post.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Donna Bader says:

    I do much the same but as I practice my presentation, my outline gets shorter and shorter until it consists only of key words, I also try to avoid practicing the day before and usually get a massage to keep loose. Maybe even a brain-dead fun movie and a good workout session. The day of oral argument, I wear my favorite suit, and yes, even underwear. I make sure I have pieces of my best supporters – a piece of jewelry from my boyfriend and grandmother. And yes, a few dog hairs, so that when I go up to the lectern, I feel the full support of my family. As I am waiting to be called, I think of the cute face of my dog, who really doesn’t care how well I do at oral argument. Thinking of him calms me. Menthol cough drops help with a dry mouth. (Don’t want to drink too many liquids!)

    Donna Bader