3 Quick Tips for New Attorneys Filing in The 9th Circuit - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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3 Quick Tips for New Attorneys Filing in The 9th Circuit

You know the drill: New attorneys practicing in the Ninth Circuit need to be aware of the court's local rules to make sure they don't look too much like a newbie.

In comparison with some other circuits, the Ninth Circuit's rules appear to be slightly more laid back. But even so, federal courts are on the whole much stricter and sterner when it comes to enforcing the rules than your average state court. If you are just starting out in federal practice, here are three quick tips.

1. No training required for the Ninth Circuit's ECF. Unlike some district courts, no official training is required before an attorney can e-file briefs and other documents in the Ninth Circuit's electronic case filing system (ECF). However, the court strongly recommends that attorneys review the available training material since messing up your e-filing could affect deadlines. Also, attorneys don't have to be a member of the Ninth Circuit bar in order to register in the ECF system.

2. Getting an extension for filing a brief. New attorneys struggling to conform their briefs to the circuit's standards can breathe a sigh of relief -- the court rules allow for time extensions to file a brief.

  • First request: If this is your first time asking for a time extension to file a brief, you may request one streamlined extension of up to 30 days from the brief's existing due date. All you have to do is submit a request through the ECF system on or before the existing due date. No form or written motion is required.
  • Requests for extensions exceeding 30 days: Extension requests for more than 30 days must be made via a written motion and will only be granted if supported by a showing of diligence and substantial need. Unlike the first streamlined extension, the 30 plus day request must be made at least seven days before the brief's due date. An affidavit or declaration that includes all of the information listed in Rule 31-2.2(b) must be submitted with the motion.

3. Page limitations. Pro tip: Your brief is not meant to be the next great American novel, and the Ninth Circuit knows it. Under Rule 32, principal briefs may not exceed 30 pages and a reply brief is 15 pages max. However, if a principal brief contains no more than 14,000 words or if it uses monospaced face and contains no more than 1,300 lines of text, but exceeds 30 pages, it'll still be accepted. Headings, footnotes, and quotes also count towards the word and line limits.

If you need more help with the rules, contact the Ninth Circuit's Clerk's Office at (415) 355-8000.

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