How you answer judges’ questions at oral argument can determine whether you win or lose. Here are some tips for mastering your answers:
- Think before you answer, even if means taking a moment to pause.
- Answer the question asked, not the question you wish the judge asked. If it calls for a yes or no answer, say yes or no, followed by an explanation that supports your theme for the case.
- Answer the questions; do not evade a question, say “I’ll get to that later,” or defer answering in any other way.
- Whenever possible, weave your theme into your answer.
- When answering, make sure you state the facts and legal propositions correctly. Any misstatement of fact or law erodes your credibility as to everything you say in oral argument, and everything in your memoranda to the court.
- If you make an erroneous statement during oral argument and realize it, correct your mistake at the earliest opportunity during oral argument.