December 22, 2020 Articles

May It Please the Court: Best Practices for a Young Attorney Taking the Podium

Four tips for arguing your first motion

By Julia Cherlow
Remember: All attorneys survived their first time in court before they could get to where they are today.

Remember: All attorneys survived their first time in court before they could get to where they are today.

So you write a great motion and three days before the hearing the senior partner on the case says, “I just realized I have a conflict. Can you handle the hearing on our motion?” You panic—what, you mean me? Argue the motion? Are you crazy? The ink isn’t yet dry on my bar card.

Before you submit your resignation and exercise your fallback option of bartending, take a deep breath. You wrote the motion. You researched the case law. You know this stuff. This is your opportunity to get some experience under your belt and, with any luck, to impress your team and your client. And to feel like a “real lawyer.” When was the last time you saw a legal drama on TV that followed the ins-and-outs of an associate’s Westlaw search history?

While it’s exciting to think about your first Perry Mason moment, let’s be honest—appearing in court by yourself for the first time will be daunting. With the following four tips, however, you’ll be well on your way to making the most out of your first substantive court appearance.

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