The Indiana Appellate Institute was created by the IndyBar Appellate Practice Section in 2010 as a resource for lawyers throughout the state who have oral arguments scheduled before the Indiana Supreme Court or Indiana Court of Appeals. Modeled after the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law School, the Indiana Appellate Institute offers “moot” or practice argument sessions before panels of former appellate clerks, seasoned appellate advocates, and subject matter experts who have reviewed the briefs and will ask the sorts of questions an advocate can expect at the actual argument.
In the first six months of 2014, the Institute mooted three Indiana Court of Appeals arguments and five Indiana Supreme Court arguments. Whether preparing for their first argument or their 20th argument, advocates have found the experience enormously helpful and often remarked that several of the questions posed by the judges or justices were ones they encountered in the moot.
The Institute generally schedules a moot argument approximately one week before the actual argument. Panels of either three (Court of Appeals) or four (Supreme Court) lawyers acting as judges pose questions for well over the allotted 20 minutes and then offer constructive feedback to the advocate. The entire experience usually takes about 90 minutes. All moots are confidential, and panelists run conflict checks.
Although the moot arguments were originally offered at no cost, the Institute began charging a $500 fee for some arguments last year. The Institute recently revisited its policy on fees. Advocates representing an indigent or pro bono client are never charged a fee nor are advocates preparing for their first oral argument in any court. Others may apply for a fee waiver or reduced fee by explaining their circumstances. The advocate form and further information is available at indybar.org/appellateinstitute.
Advocates in four of the 2014 cases paid a fee, which is being used by the Appellate Practice Section to fund scholarships for Indiana lawyers to attend the Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) conference in Dallas in November.
The Institute is only possible because of the service of many lawyers as volunteer judges. Most spend at least one to as many as several hours preparing for each moot argument in addition to the 90-minute moot. The Institute thanks the following lawyers who served on panels in 2014: Arend Abel, Bryan Babb, Victoria Bailey, Lucy Dollens, Yvonne Dutton, Tyler Helmond, Amy Karozos, Michael Limrick, Patricia McMath, Stephen Peters, Dino Pollock, Joel Schumm, Geoff Slaughter and Suzy St. John.
Lawyers who would like to volunteer to serve on a panel in the future should complete the judge form available at indybar.org/appellateinstitute.•