Thursday, September 5, 2013

Advice on appearing in front of the Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court this week released a handbook to guide attorneys on how to prepare and argue their cases when they have to travel to Lansing to argue in front of the highest court in the state.

The 13-page book, “Guide for Counsel in Cases to Be Argued in the Michigan Supreme Court,” address topics such as preparation for oral argument, filing, brief-writing, oral argument procedures, and more, according to a press release issued through spokeswoman Marcia McBrien.

It is especially designed for those making their first appearance before the court. The guide includes general information plus a directory of offices and programs.

As I non-attorney writer, I was interested in the brief-preparation section. So here’s a short excerpt from that section:

“When preparing your brief, understand your audience. The Justices and their law clerks are generalists. Your brief should educate as well as inform. Give the Court the ‘big picture’ of the applicable area of the law and explain how your case fits within that area. Draw the Court a road map of how you expect it to get from point A to point B. Do prior Court of Appeals or Supreme Court cases need to be overruled? Does the common law need to be changed? If so, state this clearly.”

The guide was compiled by Supreme Court staff with extensive input from Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch.

It is available at


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