Every now and again, I attend a CLE that does more than satisfy the hours requirement. Occasionally, there is a seminar where I walk out of the room with a new set of tools to become a better lawyer. Such was the case with the Georgia Appellate Practice Seminar sponsored by the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Georgia. I moderated a panel titled, “The Winning Brief: How to Capture the Judge’s Attention (And How to Lose it).”
When I introduced the panel, I confessed up front that I was shamelessly taking advantage of the situation. In essence, the panel was made up of people I would like to corner at a cocktail party and ask questions about how to write a brief until they run away or leap from a window to stop taking questions from me. Friday, they were a captive audience for well over an hour, and I had a big outline of questions prepared to ask them. I asked all the stuff I wanted to know about the most. I hope that the audience (and it was a big audience) didn’t notice that I was taking notes to try to remember as much as I could of what the panelists were saying. I’m going to share some of it with you here. Later this week, I will share with you the great lessons I learned from the panel that spoke on oral argument (most of the lessons they taught were things that I have learned over the years by making the mistakes and learning from them).
The panel was made up of Presiding Judge Herbert Phipps, from the Georgia Court of Appeals. Also on the panel was Judge Stephen Dillard and Judge Christopher McFadden. The practitioner on the panel was Gerard Kleinrock, who is the appellate division for the DeKalb County Public Defenders Office. I was trying to moderate the panel and take notes at the same time. So, there may be some wisdom that doesn’t make it here. I also may be giving the wrong panelist credit or not attributing some of it to anyone because I don’t remember who said what. So, here are things I learned moderating the panel on Oral Argument.