Judges just want you to have some common sense: My notes from Boston Bar’s Bankruptcy Bench Panel

A few weeks ago I went to the Boston Bar Association’s 5th Annual Young Bar Meets Bankruptcy Bench Program Panel discussion. It was a lot of fun to go and listen to the judges and meet other bankruptcy attorneys, especially in the midst of studying for the MPRE. Dear readers, I apologize for this post is coming slightly late; I have been meaning to get this info together but haven’t had the time.

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That said, here are some gems from the panel discussion:

The Panel:

  • Hon. Frank J. Bailey
  • Hon. William C. Hillman
  • Hon. Melvin S. Hoffman
  • Hon. Joan N. Feeney
  • James M. Lynch (Clerk)

Tips from the Judges:

  • Confer with opposing counsel and try to narrow the issues.
  • Know your argument and issues.
  • Have facts that show that people who need notice have indeed received notice.
  • Judges are looking for answers to questions; they do not necessarily want to hear a speech. But…
  • If there is a split of legal authority on the law, may be useful to hear it.
  • You can file a supplemental brief if you don’t know a material legal issue, usually 24 hours.
  • Respond to judges questions directly.
  • Be where you can be heard [in the courtroom].
  • Rambo litigators get no points in bankruptcy court. (yay for me, since I am hardly Rambo).
  • Pick your battles.
  • Be civil and courteous and polite.
  • Act professional.
  • Don’t say, “With all due respect.” Judges know what you really mean when you say that. Instead, you can say, “May you consider…” etc.
  • Avoid saying “clearly.”
  • Be early.
  • Be prepared. Duh.
  • Know other things in the case besides your motion (Luckily, I always over prepare.). Make sure to include the statutory/legal basis for the request in the brief.
  • Make sure you state what your request is- what do you want the court to do?
  • Know the rules of evidence. Refreshing memory = a thing of beauty.

From the Clerk:

  • Don’t be nasty. Word gets around.
  • Call clerks if you don’t know how to do something.
  • Make sure you link to the right document [when filing online documents].
  • Don’t fill in redundant text boxes; if you already attached the relevant document, don’t put the same info in the text box.
  • Pay filing fee or you’ll get locked out of the system the next day.


THE POINT: BE PREPARED, PROFESSIONAL, and POLITE! Common sense for any person in any industry, I think.

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