Friday, April 06, 2007

School: Oral Argument


One of the most tense periods I've experienced in law school happened today, in the minutes before my scheduled final oral argument in Appellate Advocacy. While there's certainly been stressful times these past couple semesters, I can't recall the last time I was so nervous before I had to speak in public. I've done presentations and such in undergrad before, but legal arguments are more meticulous and far more formal, and there would be no PowerPoint to aid me.

It went pretty well. Before an appeals court, there often isn't much time to present your case before the judges start peppering you with questions. It's imperative that any questions are dealt with openly and frankly, before smoothly returning to the meat of your argument. You get bonus points for pre-emptively addressing issues the court might have with your position, especially if you can come up with novel ways to support your case.

The bottom line, though, is preparation, but perhaps not how one might think it applies. There's a certain minimum knowledge of the caselaw required, of course, but to truly do well, you have to apply those principles at a higher Yomi layer than your opponent. You make an argument, other side makes a counter-argument - but if you can counter this counter-argument, you can really hit the opposition's position hard.

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