Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Seventh Circuit: Be Concise and Embrace Tough Questions

By Charlie Ingrassia
Law Clerk to Hon. Susan F. Hutchinson, Illinois Appellate Court, Second District

On May 28, 2014, the Association gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago for its annual roundtable luncheon honoring the Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. ALA Secretary Mike Scodro welcomed Association members and guests, who included many judges of the Seventh Circuit along with judges from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Appellate Court, and the Cook County Circuit Court.

Also in attendance was Hon. James Allsop, the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia. After being introduced by Chief Judge Diane Wood, Chief Justice Allsop provided an insightful overview of the Federal Court of Australia. The Chief Justice noted that the court was established in 1976; it is a national court with no districts or circuits; and appeals from its decisions go directly to the High Court of Australia, the highest court in the Australian judicial system.

Following lunch, during which members of the Seventh Circuit sat at individual tables alongside ALA members, Chief Judge Wood, Judge John Daniel Tinder, and Judge David Hamilton participated in a panel discussion moderated by Scodro. The panel provided helpful tips with respect to both brief writing and presenting oral argument. Regarding briefs, Chief Judge Wood noted the "virtues of being concise and focused" and emphasized that doing so was "immensely helpful" to the court. Judge Hamilton appreciated briefs that were organized in a simple, two-part, structure: (1) why your side is right; followed by (2) why the other side is wrong.

With respect to oral argument, the panel encouraged the audience to "embrace the tough questions." Chief Judge Wood noted that a well-prepared attorney will thoroughly know the facts and law underlying the case, with Judge Tinder reminding the audience that appellate court judges were "generalists." The panel also provided a helpful reminder that interrupting the judges presiding over oral argument "is a foolish way to win a case."

The ALA thanks the Judges of the Seventh Circuit for another enjoyable and informative roundtable luncheon.

Recommended Citation: Charlie Ingrassia, Seventh Circuit: Be Concise and Embrace Tough QuestionsThe Brief, (June 4, 2014),

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