Appellate Insights

Apr 14, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
Can You Hear Me Now?

Although some appellate courts have cancelled or postponed oral arguments in light of the current pandemic, others are forging ahead with arguments via phone or videoconference.  Here are some pointers for arguing remotely:

  • Find out in advance what platform the court will be using, and do a dry run if possible to work out any technical issues.
  • If the argument will be by videoconference, dress as you would for court and choose a backdrop with minimal distractions.
  • Be prepared to speak for several minutes without interruption – judges and justices are less likely to jump in right away with questions during remote arguments than during in-person arguments.
  • Speak more slowly than usual, including pausing at the end of each sentence to leave openings for questions.

►  The practical message:  Remote arguments present some challenges, but a little planning can go a long way.  Thinking through the technical and stylistic issues in advance will allow you to focus on substance once the argument begins.