September 11, 2018 view from the bench

How to Prep Like a Pro for Your First Oral Argument in Federal Court

By Hon. Karen L. Stevenson

You just learned that the federal judge in your case will hold oral argument on your pending motion, but you have never appeared in federal court before. Whether it’s your first year or your fifteenth, your first oral argument in federal court can seem intimidating. Here are practical steps to help you make a successful appearance before the federal bench. I cannot promise that the court will rule in your favor, but with the right preparation, you can avoid “rookie” mistakes and shine like a veteran.

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Step 1: Know the Rules

Success begins long before you make your appearance—even before you write your brief. It begins with knowing the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. What are the filing deadlines? How long will you have to prepare your opposition? What are the page limits for your brief? Did you meet and confer with opposing counsel before filing your brief? Does your notice of motion include a signed certification confirming that you have satisfied the meet-and-confer requirement?


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