John Marshall American Inn of Court and Lewis F. Powell Jr. American Inn of Court
In June, the John Marshall American Inn of Court and Lewis F. Powell Jr. American Inn of Court, both of Richmond, Virginia, presented “Practicing Law in a Pandemic: Tips and Insights from the Bench.” The 90-minute webinar featured a panel of judges offering best practices about litigating during the COVID-19 pandemic and through remote proceedings. Numerous members from both Inns participated in the program, which was moderated by Dabney J. Carr, Esquire. Jeffrey M. Hanna introduced the moderator and panelists: Judge John A. Gibney Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia; Judge Joi Jeter-Taylor, chief judge of the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond; Judge Stephen R. McCullough, justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia; and Judge Marla Graff Decker, chief judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
Carr engaged the judges in an interesting round-robin discussion on the judges’ recent experiences with remote proceedings. The judges also discussed tips and pointers on what attorneys should keep in mind to enhance their advocacy and persuasiveness in virtual and telephonic proceedings. The panel offered candid insights on how courts will begin to reopen in-person proceedings and what proceedings will likely continue on a remote basis. Tips from the judges included everything from remembering to pause if an attorney is presenting oral argument telephonically, to allow judges to ask a question, to keeping your background neutral and presentable in a virtual hearing. The judges also answered questions via the chat feature from audience members. Ironically, during the webinar, two of the judge panelists disconnected from the webinar due to internet issues and had to reconnect by telephone. The experience reiterated the advice from all the judges that attorney flexibility and patience is critical in this new virtual and remote world that COVID-19 has brought to the legal community. The Inns were pleased to partner together on such a timely and informative topic.