Summer 2021, Vol. 40 No. 3
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June 03, 2021
Arguing Your First Case at the U.S. Supreme
Court: An ABA Roundtable Discussion
The Appellate Practice Committee hosted a panel of five
attorneys who just made their Supreme Court debuts and
who graciously lent their time and shared their experiences
in a well-attended Zoom roundtable.
By Josh Ostrer and Lauren Jacobs
Have you ever wondered what it is like to prepare for your first oral argument before the
U.S. Supreme Court? What about preparing for an oral argument during an unprecedented
pandemic? The Appellate Practice Committee hosted a panel of five attorneys who just
made their Supreme Court debuts and who graciously lent their time and shared their
experiences in a well-attended Zoom roundtable. The roundtable was moderated by
Appellate Practice Committee member Susan Yorke (California Appellate Law Group).
In the hour-long session, Brian Goldman (Orrick), Sarah Harris (Williams & Connolly),
Ramzi Kassem (CUNY School of Law), Sanjay Narayan (Sierra Club), and David Shapiro
(MacArthur Justice Center) discussed the unique, and the comfortably familiar, aspects of
preparing for remote oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. The key takeaway? All
five panelists agreed: Preparation, preparation, preparation.
Despite working for private firms, law schools, and public interest groups—and arguing
cases ranging from juvenile life without parole to the Railroad Retirement Act—the newly
minted Supreme Court advocates shared similar experiences.
How Each Attorney Came into His/Her Case
The attorneys found their way to the Supreme Court differently.
Goldman represented a noncitizen in an immigration case focused on the effect of a prior
misdemeanor conviction on potential cancellation of removal. He joined the case when it
was still before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, after dealing with similar
issues before other courts of appeal. He prepared both the en banc and cert petitions.