During a recent panel at Georgetown Law’s annual International Trade Update, two Federal Circuit judges urged trade attorneys to consider their audience and simplify their briefs. Although the U.S. Court of International Trade is specialized, Federal Circuit Judge Todd M. Hughes emphasized how the conversation must change when a trade matter is appealed to the Federal Circuit Court. U.S. Circuit Judge Jimmie V. Reyna also explained that the Federal Circuit receives fewer trade cases compared to other matters and thus requires more context for the judges.
Both stressed the need for background information before presenting arguments. “Explain the terminology, explain the process and the procedures,” said Judge Reyna. As Judge Hughes noted, trade attorneys need to ensure his junior law clerks are able to follow the discussion of the issues. “They are critical to my decision-making process,” Judge Hughes said of his clerks. “So if you write a brief that they can’t understand, then you’re doing yourselves a huge disservice.”