Teleconferencing platforms like Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Teams have emerged as viable conferencing programs given Coronavirus restrictions. Still, there is something to be said about interacting in person.
That was a major selling point for Rivas & Associates attorneys Elissa Stiles and Lorena Rivas to attend the 2021 Appellate Advocacy Seminar earlier this month.
Held in New Orleans, the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Professionalism event allowed the two prominent Tulsa immigration attorneys the opportunity to hear insight and perspective from some of the sharpest legal minds – lawyers and judges – in the 5th Circuit.
“It was a great event and a fantastic learning opportunity for us,” Elissa Stiles said. “I’ve been to plenty of Zoom webinars and conferences this past one-and-a-half years. Zoom is nice, but nothing replaces in-person human interaction, particularly when you are going over strategies for giving oral arguments.”
The 2021 Appellate Advocacy Seminar focused on a number of issues one of which Stiles highlighted was arguing at the Appellate level, or in a court of appeals.
“Arguing at the Appellate level requires a lot of work and can be very intimidating because you’re facing a hot bench – dealing with a judge who is asking a lot of questions,” Elissa Stiles said. “To me, that was a big selling point of this seminar. All the panels were really strong, but I thought the best panel was the Supreme Court panel which really effectively covered some of the recent decisions by the Supreme Court and 5th Circuit that will set the foundation for future arguments.”
The above panel featured notable Houston attorneys Tim Crooks and Aaron Street, along with Washington D.C. attorney Jeffrey Green.
Other panel sessions held at the two-day Appellate Advocacy Seminar were included “Attorney’s Perspective: Practical Tips for Arguing at the Appellate Level” and “A Glimpse Behind the Curtain: Judges discuss the inner working of how an appeal gets processed – from oral argument to mandate.”
Additionally, there was a writing workshop during the seminar conducted by two Louisiana State University law professors which Stiles said was her favorite session of the seminar.
“I write a lot of legal briefs, and they presented a new approach to present issues to the court, which I have not used yet,” Elissa Stiles said. “I’m excited to implement that approach because I think it highlights how to display the logical meat of an argument, or the heart of a case more directly and clearly in a persuasive manner.”
Although Stiles and Rivas were kept busy by the seminar’s CLE sessions, the two were able to explore some of New Orleans and were able to network with judges and attorneys from the 5th Circuit – Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The two decorated immigration attorneys sought out a seminar in the 5th Circuit because Oklahoma resides in the 10th Circuit, and the Immigration Court with jurisdiction over Oklahoma is Texas.
“It definitely allowed us to expand our network which was good,” Elissa Stiles said. “We’re up in 10th Circuit territory (Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming), so it was good to learn more about some of the issues the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal deals with.”