What's been your worst moment as an appellate lawyer? What did you learn?
New York appellate attorney Joshua Rosenkranz explains what he learned from dropping his papers in court.
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So this was in the Second Circuit. I was arguing a David and Goliath case against a major pharmaceutical company on behalf of an individual and a stunningly brilliant inventor. And I was arguing it against probably the biggest name lawyer in New York City, actually one of the biggest name lawyers in the country. It was worth $300 million. We were defending a judgment, and this phenomenal lawyer gets up and argues and does a great job.
And I get up – and I’ll just, as a side note: for whatever reason in my by then 120 appeals, I’d never brought a litigation bag with me. I’d either brought – you know, either the record was small enough that I could just bring the record, or I would bring excerpts that would fit into a binder that was really handy. In this case, it just was in the middle, so I brought a litigation bag. I stand up, I’m focused on that podium, I’ve got my notes in my hand, and I proceed to trip over the litigation bag, fall on my hands and knees with my notes spread out in front of me.
And one of the things that I thought was really telling about that – if you had told me in advance, one day you’re gonna fall flat on your face in a courtroom, what will happen, my prediction would have been that I’d be flustered for a minute or two, that I’d stutter a little bit, my heart would be racing, but I’d regain my composure within three minutes. The thing that really surprised me is I was so focused on that damn podium, I don’t think my heart rate changed. I got up, I pulled my notes together, I stood there, and I proceeded as if nothing had happened.