The Appellate Practice Institute focuses on appellate writing, oral advocacy skills, and common mistakes and pitfalls in the appellate process. The Institute also provides valuable insight into perspectives from the bench. Every appellate advocate can benefit from knowing how appellate judges view appellate lawyers.
Participants began by submitting a brief, which a member of the Institute faculty critiqued during one-on-one sessions. Upon arrival, Abbott met with a Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court for her individual brief critique. Participants also presented oral arguments to panels comprised of federal appellate judges, state appellate judges, and seasoned appellate attorneys. Abbott argued before a panel consisting of the Michigan Solicitor General and a Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court.
Participants also engaged in plenary sessions about persuasive brief writing, oral argument preparation and delivery (featuring remarks by renowned Supreme Court advocate Carter Phillips), and ethical issues that arise when handling appeals. Following their own mock oral arguments, participants witnessed a model argument featuring distinguished advocates Nicole Saharsky, Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, and Miguel Estrada, Co-Chair of Gibson Dunn’s Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group. Participants were also treated to a lunch discussion with Hon. Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, a personal highlight for Abbott.
Abbott says she learned three key things:
- Knowing your audience (the judge and the court) is key when handling an appeal.
- Candor and effective and efficient communication are vital. Conceding a point does not harm your client when argument is thorough.
- “A brief can always be briefer!”