San Francisco Daily Journal
Understanding what is necessary to argue effectively is important for junior attorneys to make compelling oral arguments. They must be persuasive, prepared, and precise. By following this 10-step guide, junior attorneys can maximize their opportunity to litigate and represent their clients’ interests.
First, tell the judge why you are there and what you want. Judges are extremely busy and may have hundreds of cases on their docket. Next, anticipate arguments and counterarguments that may be made by the parties and the court. Anticipating potential arguments aids in preparation prior to the hearing. Be responsive and respectful to the judge. Take note that when you are speaking, you address the court and not opposing counsel. Next, be as brief as possible. Being concise and direct is almost always more persuasive than being general.
Successfully persuading a judge to rule in your favor on an issue is greatly enhanced by providing the court with legal authority permitting it to do so. Make your arguments easy to follow and avoid legalese. Judges are human beings and making an argument simple and easy to follow makes it more persuasive. Also, practicing in front of a colleague unfamiliar with the case can be helpful in determining the persuasiveness of your argument. Remember that the issue is important to your client. Being assertive and confident helps show clients that retaining you was the right decision. Lastly, be professional. Unlike senior attorneys, junior attorneys must gain respect from a judge by acting professionally in their speech and attire, and by being prepared and organized.
David A. Grenardo, Ten-Step Guide to Oral Argument for Junior Attorneys, Sᴀɴ Fʀᴀɴᴄɪsᴄᴏ Dᴀɪʟʏ Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟ, June 8, 2010.