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.

Contact Joshua Rosenkranz

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Phone: (212) 506-5380


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.