The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Center on Professionalism (COP) partnered with the Legal Practice Skills (LPS) faculty to host the inaugural Judicial Panel on Professionalism on the topic of professionalism before the court with a focus on how to conduct effective oral arguments.
The panel consisted of Judge Philip Carchman W’63, L’66, the former Presiding Judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division; Judge Cheryl Ann Krause C’89, a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; and Judge C. Darnell Jones II, an Adjunct Professor at the Law School and a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. COP Director Joseph Glyn moderated the discussion.
COP provides practical programming grounded in real-world experiences to teach the competencies and qualities students need to stand out and succeed in modern legal practice. The Law School’s LPS curriculum focuses on teaching essential legal skills, especially research and presenting cases effectively. LPS trains students not only how to think like a lawyer but also how to act and communicate like one.
“Oral arguments before a judge or appellate panel are exceptional opportunities for attorneys to demonstrate superior client representation and enhance their professional reputation with the court and among their fellow attorneys,” said Glyn.
During the panel discussion, Judge Carchman stressed the importance of “preparation, preparation, preparation” for oral argument: “full knowledge of the record that you’re going to be arguing from and the facts and the law.”
The panelists also discussed the importance of professionalism, candor, and civility with judges as well as among fellow attorneys while always acting as an officer of the court.
“Professionalism is an issue of ‘legal identity,’” said Judge Krause. “This profession is … a noble profession. It serves the cause of justice. It is upholding the rule of law.”
Judge C. Darnell Jones II stressed how much influence lawyers have as part of the larger judicial system.
“Lawyers have so much more power than judges do,” said Judge Jones. “As a lawyer, you can take on one challenge or another from one day to the next. And people look at you as having that kind of ability.”
Judge Carchman succinctly explained why professionalism is crucial to success in the courtroom.
“You are an officer of the court,” said Judge Carchman. “You have an obligation to the court. What you must bring to the table is a sense that you are seeking justice, no matter which side of the argument you are on. Professionalism is the pathway to achieving that end.”
LPS Interim Director and Director of Academic Support Jessica Simon explained why judges were chosen to lead a panel focusing on oral arguments.
“We thought that there would be no better way for the students to learn about oral arguments than from those who see these arguments on a regular basis,” said Simon. “And the students heard about the importance of fostering an environment in the litigation context of civility and professionalism. They learned that the best way to advocate for their clients is to be prepared and to provide candor to the court,” she said. “As much as we, the faculty in the program, can teach our students about these themes, it’s so much more impactful coming from the judges who will be making decisions in their future cases in front of the court.”
Hannah-Rose Hintz L’22 commented that the event provided an experiential learning opportunity as part of her first-year LPS course.
“I found the judicial panel on oral arguments to be an incredible opportunity to learn from several of the most inspirational and knowledgeable members of our legal community,” she said. “Although I learned many things, one of the most meaningful lessons that the panel shared was that advocates should know every aspect of their case so as to be able to respond to the court’s questions and hypotheticals and should exhibit sufficient flexibility and command of their case to be able to concede some points while pressing others.”
For more information on the types of support and initiatives COP provides Penn Law students, see the COP website.