Howard Bashman has argued a substantial number of cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the state appellate courts of Pennsylvania. He is well known to, and highly regarded by, many of the appellate judges on these courts.

Bashman has argued and won appeals in cases that other lawyers have handled in the trial court. That an appellate lawyer would replace the trial lawyer in arguing an appeal is not at all revolutionary. When the federal government’s cases reach the Supreme Court of the United States, attorneys from the Solicitor General’s office argue the case for the government, even though they typically have had no involvement in the case before it reached that Court. Similarly, in many U.S. Attorney’s Offices, appeals in civil and criminal cases are briefed and argued by attorneys who specialize in appellate litigation.

Some trial attorneys correctly conclude that they are best suited to argue an appeal in a case that they have handled from its outset. Bashman is available to assist those lawyers in preparing for an appellate oral argument.

Many years ago, the appellate oral argument often represented the advocate’s first opportunity to introduce appellate judges to the facts and issues in a case on appeal. Today, by contrast, when oral argument occurs the appellate judges are very familiar with the cases pending before them. The judges have read the parties’ briefs, they have reviewed bench memos from their law clerks that discuss the governing law, and they may have looked at the key precedents and the critical portions of the appellate record.

Present day appellate oral argument is not an opportunity for a lawyer to provide a speech describing the facts of the case and summarizing the appellate brief. Rather, it is an opportunity for the judges to ask the lawyer about the issues that trouble them the most and to hone in on the very weakest points of that lawyer’s argument. The judges will want to know how the lawyer would formulate the precise legal principle that the lawyer is asking the Court to adopt, and how that principle will apply in cases presenting facts different from those of the present case.

Before entering private practice, Bashman served a judicial clerkship and, in that capacity, worked with an appellate judge to discuss what questions should be asked at oral argument. He can help you identify the weaknesses in your case on appeal that likely will be the subject of vigorous questioning during oral argument and can offer insight on how best to answer those very tough questions convincingly and succinctly. Bashman knows well the predilections of most every appellate judge serving on the Third Circuit and on the state appellate courts of Pennsylvania, and he can help you by providing advice about how those judges are likely to view the issues involved in your case on appeal. Bashman also has insights about appellate judges serving on other courts and knows many experienced appellate advocates practicing in other areas of the United States who will be more than happy to provide insights into their local appellate judges.

Oral argument on appeal does matter. Appellate judges agree that, in a meaningful percentage of cases, oral argument changes the judges’ minds about the proper result. Regrettably, anyone who has ever spent a morning observing oral arguments in an appellate court has seen attorneys who are inexperienced at delivering appellate oral arguments and who provide arguments that are unhelpful and frustrating to the appellate judges and damaging to their clients’ case.

The Third Circuit’s former chief judge, Edward R. Becker, has stated publicly that he is more likely to grant oral argument in an appeal if he knows that the attorneys involved are experienced appellate advocates. Thus, if you are seeking reversal on appeal, which is very difficult to obtain in the absence of oral argument, you would be helped by having an experienced appellate lawyer involved in your appeal and shown on your brief. There is no reason to think that Judge Becker’s approach is unique either to him or to the Third Circuit.

Oral argument on appeal provides a critical, additional opportunity for the advocate to persuade the appellate court to rule in favor of his or her client. Bashman can assist you either by delivering oral argument or by helping you prepare to give the most effective appellate oral argument possible in your case.


Law Offices of
Howard J. Bashman

500 Office Center Drive
Suite 400
Fort Washington, PA 19034
Phone: (215) 830-1458

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