Saturday, February 10, 2007

U.S. Chief Justice Offers Advice For Better Advocacy

This is a follow-up to my post of February 6, 2007 entitled Training Program To Prep Lawyers For Supreme Court.

That post described a new training project called the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute that is intended to help Canadian lawyers better prepare for appearances in front of the Supreme Court. It includes mock hearings where lawyers can be critiqued by some of Canada's top litigators.

The thinking is that this kind of training will be of great advantage to novice lawyers and be of benefit to Supreme Court judges who are known to be frustrated by occasionally naive jurists who wander all over the map.

Well, it might not involve a formal training program, but some important people in that great Republic to the south of us also think lawyers are in need of help when it comes to appearances in front of the top court of the land.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday about a speech U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. gave to an audience at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago:

"Attention, Supreme Court practitioners! Absolutely free advice on how to make your briefs better-read, your arguments more closely followed, your justices more sympathetic..."
Among the tips from the supreme U.S. Supremo:
  • "First, pretend that you're not always right"
  • "How about a little recognition that it's a tough job? 'I mean, if it was an easy case, we wouldn't have it'."
  • "Try to become more 'attuned' to what judges are asking... 'Now what does that question tell me about what that judge is thinking?' and respond rapidly rather than trying to stick to my script'..."
  • "An acknowledgment that the justices face a complicated case can attract sympathy from the bench, while an argument that a case is a no-brainer is a challenge to start looking for holes".
  • "You don't see it very often and it can obviously be risky, but for somebody to get up and say, 'The biggest argument against us is' whatever, 'this precedent that you decided six years ago, and if you were going to follow it down the line, my client should probably lose. Here's why I think you shouldn't follow it in this case.' ...'I think that type of an approach could be very effective'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:27 pm


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