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NYS Bar Association offers moot court for court of appeals practitioners

October 30, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of the Council of Judicial Associations. Photo courtesy of the Council of Judicial Associations.
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Attorneys always doubt the efficacy of oral argument at the Court of Appeals while judges insist that they can be useful. Now attorneys will at least have the opportunity to put their best foot forward thanks to the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).

The Bar Association’s Court of Appellate Jurisdiction committee is now offering attorneys scheduled to argue at the state’s highest court a chance to practice their oral argument in moot court.

“Not every case merits a moot,” Ed Markarian, a partner at Magavern Magavern Grimm LLP and committee member, wrote in Leaveworthy, the NYSBA’s committees’ newsletter. “But how many times will we make it to the Court of Appeals? Maybe never again. We scrub our briefs. Why not do the same for oral argument?

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“Some say that oral argument does not matter but I have heard appellate judges say it matters 10 to 20 percent of the time. I believe it, and for close cases at the Court of Appeals, maybe the number is higher. How much effort would you put into your brief to improve your odds by 20 percent? I expect a lot.”

Attorneys who expect to appear before the Court of Appeals can apply to the committee for an opportunity to present their argument, free of charge. Arguments are typically scheduled 10 to 14 days before the court appearance and typically will be unilateral with only one party participating. Although, if both parties agree, the committee is willing to do separate evaluations for each attorney.

The state bar expects the moot court to be especially helpful for small firms and solo practitioners who don’t have a lot of experience in the Court of Appeals.

Brooklyn attorneys should be warned that while the program is free, they may have to drive up to Albany to participate.


NYSBA members interested in the service should email Alan Pierce, the moot chair, at [email protected] at least four to six weeks prior to their argument date.


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