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As a practitioner in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, most of your time is spent thinking about the theoretical aspects of the law as you craft finely-honed briefs and oral arguments for your cases. However, you can't forget the basic, practical considerations of working in a federal appellate court. Regardless of whether this is your first time arguing in front of the court, or you are a seasoned pro, here's a recap of the top practical considerations a Federal Circuit practitioner should keep in mind:
1. Internet and Computer Access
In today's Internet-obsessed age, access to the Internet is an important consideration for looking up a precedential case or reading an emergency email. The Federal Circuit provides wireless access from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. only on days when oral arguments are scheduled. You have to obtain a password from the Clerk's Office to access the Internet, and the password changes monthly.
Inside the courtroom, computers are only allowed at counsel tables. Outside of the courtroom, Internet access is available on the second and fourth floor lobbies, and in the Circuit Library on an "as available" basis.
For more information on the Federal Circuit's Internet and computer policy, see here.
2. Knowing the Rules of Practice
Familiarizing yourself with the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the local Rules of the Federal Circuit will save you a lot of time and expense for obvious reasons. In addition, the Federal Circuit provides a handy, side-by-side comparison of the rules to make the appeals process more transparent.
3. The Devil is in the Details
The Federal Circuit also provides two top ten lists of why briefs are rejected and why motions are rejected. From lack of proof of service to the font size of footnotes, the list contains some seemingly rookie moves, but forgetting these simple administrative actions could seriously hamper your case.
4. Setting up Home Base
If you're like most Federal Circuit practitioners, you are coming from out-of-town. Don't forget to find a comfortable place to work and sleep that is conveniently-located to the court. Luckily, the Federal Circuit provides a list of places to stay in the area.
5. A Federal Circuit Practitioner's Best Friend
The clerk's office is an essential part of any courthouse, and it should become your best friend. From providing Internet passwords to answering questions on filing your appeal, the staff can be a significant asset. Keep their contact information handy.