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Preparing for Oral Argument: Modules vs. Outlines - Litigation News

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Litigation News

Posted on: Apr 14, 2015

By Arend Abel, Cohen & Malad LLP

A great article on preparing for oral argument was recently brought to my attention. The key thesis of the article is that an argument should be structured in “modules” rather than as an outline. I’ll admit that, as an outliner from way back, my first reaction was a little bit of skepticism. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In fact, as I thought about it, I realized that I deliver my arguments in modules, even though I generally prepare with an outline, and take that outline to the podium with me.  Because I deliver my arguments in modules, it only makes sense to prepare them that way.

But is there a difference between a “module” and a section of an outline? Well, yes, at least psychologically. The author’s tip to practice with the modules out of order illustrates the point. How many of us would take our written outline out of order? Or would we at most change the whole outline to reflect a new insight into the order in which we want to present it? This is some food for thought. It’s not a long article and well worth the 2-3 minutes of reading it will take. 

This post was written by Arend Abel of Cohen & Malad LLP. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Litigation Section page, please email Rachel Beachy at


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