Notices of Argument by Junior Lawyers

Though Judicial Orders play a key role in creating opportunities for junior lawyers, trial lawyers can also initiate the discussion with the court. We have advocated for lawyers to raise the topic in case management conferences, pre-trial conferences and other conferences focused on how the case or trial will be managed. Even without a conference pending, notice can be given to the court via a “Notice of Argument by Junior Layers.” One such notice (which can be cribbed from and improved upon as a model) was filed recently by Fish & Richardson and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley in a case before Judge Koh in the Northern District of California. The notice read:

On May 12, 2016 at 1:30 p.m., this court has scheduled argument on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment. As a number of courts have recognized “in today’s practice of law, fewer cases go to trial and there are generally fewer speaking opportunities in court, particularly for young lawyers (i.e., lawyers practicing for less than seven years).” See, e.g., Secured Structures, LLC v. Alarm Security Group, LLC, Order, Civ. Act. No. 6:14-CV-930 (E.D. Tex., Mitchell, J., Jan. 22, 2016); http://chipsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Judicial-Orders-re-Next-Gen-3-9-16.pdf; www.nextgenlawyers.com (judicial orders).

A number of courts “strongly encourage[] the parties to be mindful of opportunities for young lawyers to argue in front of the Court, particularly for motions where the young lawyer drafted or contributed significantly to the underlying motion or response.” See, e.g., id.

This Court has likewise encouraged parties to “permit less experienced lawyers” to have stand-up opportunities. See, e.g., Guidelines for Final Pretrial Conference in Bench Trials Before District Judge Lucy H. Koh  G (Jan. 3, 2011); Guidelines for Final Pretrial Conference in Jury Trials Before District Judge Lucy H. Koh G (Jan. 3, 2011).

Plaintiffs respectfully notify the Court that they intend to have first year associate Holly K. Victorson and second year associate Emily Petersen Garff argue the upcoming summary judgment motions. Ms. Victorson and Ms. Garff were the primary drafters of Plaintiffs’ briefing, and were involved in taking much of the discovery Plaintiffs relied upon in their motion. Given the gravity of the issue before this Court, Plaintiffs respectfully request that more experienced counsel be able to assist in the argument should the need arises.

Judge Koh responded in an Order, providing the questions she wanted addressed at the hearing and and encouraging Defendants to send a junior lawyer to argue their side of the motion:

Plaintiffs’ counsel has stated that two junior attorneys—a first year and second year associate—will argue at the May 12, 2016 motions hearing. In the interest of providing junior attorneys from both sides an opportunity for argument, the Court encourages Defendants to identify junior attorneys to argue at the motions hearing. However, after reviewing Defendants’ counsel website, the Court acknowledges that finding a first or second year associate to argue may not be feasible and that it may be necessary for Defendants’ counsel to be represented by a more experienced associate.

Defendants responded to Judge Koh’s order arguing their case through associate Helene Simvoulakis-Panos.

For a full article by Scott Graham at the Recorder, see here.

Many thanks to Fortune for reposting:

  • It pleases the court. Fish & Richardson partner Katherine Vidal has partnered with women’s networking organization ChIPs and the Federal Circuit Bar Association to launch Next Generation Lawyers, a website that compiles opportunities for young lawyers to get in-courtroom experience. The Recorder

and to the Federal Circuit Bar Association for reposting:

Join the leading edge. Good spirited and collaborative transition in the legal profession’s leadership is key to its continued health and service. Fashioning those approaches engages the bench, the bar, and the clients. Successful transition benefits the justice system through shared experience, opportunity, and growth. In this high-interest series, judges, litigators, and corporate counsel drill deeply into how all sectors of the justice delivery system are addressing this core need. Judicial roles and techniques, client interests (with respect both to the courtroom and to the board room), litigation skills and economics are among the contributing considerations. The Association is pleased to work with other organizations and firms in this outreach, including the key collaboration with ChiPs.

The accompanying May 24, 2016 article from “The Recorder” (distributed with permission) provides key insight into the professional significance of bridging this transition as well as one practical example from Fish & Richardson of how to construct courtroom opportunities. So far in 2016, Next Generation Series sessions have occurred in Plano, Texas; Santa Clara, California; and Chicago, Illinois. Related discussion occurred in a jointly sponsored FCBA/FBA session in Wilmington, Delaware. For district court orders encouraging Next Generation advocacy opportunities (generously compiled by CHiPs) see here.

Written by: Kathi Vidal, May 27, 2016

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