Academic journal article Journal of Appellate Practice and Process

First Arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States

Academic journal article Journal of Appellate Practice and Process

First Arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States

Article excerpt

PREFACE

I practiced law for sixteen years, spending much of that time as a member of my firm's appellate-practice group. And though I never said so out loud, I always hoped I'd argue at the Supreme Court. That never happened, and now of course it's clear I'll never go. But I've learned at last how it feels to walk into that courtroom for your first argument.

It stops your heart.

And now I know that anything can happen once you're there. You'll face the one question you didn't anticipate, the question you dismissed as irrelevant, or the one to which the only possible answer is unlikely to satisfy anyone on the Court. Perhaps an exchange with one of the Justices will give you a chance to make your strongest points. Or maybe the questions will come so quickly that you'll be unable to address them all.

You'll be surprised by how small the courtroom is and how close you stand to the bench. You'll be impressed--perhaps intimidated--by the majesty of the setting. You'll be amazed to have ended up there, and you'll be grateful to those who helped you along the way. You'll hope that you're adequately prepared. You'll be eager. You'll be ready. You'll be scared. Maybe you'll say a prayer. …

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