The Clerk’s Office has prepared a Guide for Oral Argument (pdf) to aid counsel in preparing for, and participating in, oral argument before the Federal Circuit.
Arguing counsel must check-in with the courtroom deputy at their assigned courtroom at least thirty minutes before the start of the day’s session. At check-in the deputy will verify the name of arguing counsel and the argument time allotted, as well as any time reserved for rebuttal if applicable. Same-day changes to arguing counsel or time divisions are generally not allowed, absent prior filing of a new entry of appearance and an amended Response to Notice of Oral Argument in the case.
COVID Protocol Notice: All persons must wear an N-95, KN-95, or KF-94 mask while on the premises of the National Courts Building. See Revised Protocols for In-Person Argument (pdf).
Lounge space for arguing counsel and members of the bar is available outside of each courtroom, in the Circuit Library on the second floor, and on the second floor of the Tayloe House each morning during the monthly court session. Light refreshments are available from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Tayloe House (accessible through the second floor).
The Federal Circuit provides wireless internet access to members of the bar on days the court is in session. Access is limited to members of the bar and is available at counsel tables in the courtrooms, in the lobbies outside of each courtroom, in the lawyers’ lounge, and in the Circuit Library.
Members of the bar may obtain access information from the courtroom staff upon checking-in for argument, from the Clerk’s Office (Room 401) or from the Circuit Library (Room 218).
All visitors to the National Courts Building and their belongings are subject to search upon entering the courthouse. Visitors must go through metal detectors (magnetometers) that are staffed by court security officers and belongings will be screened through x-ray machines. This process is very similar to the security screening process at airports.
In order to ensure a speedy and efficient process, please adhere to the following rules:
Assistive auditory devices (“hearing loop”) are available in each courtroom for spectators during argument. Please let a member of the courtroom or security staff know if you require an assistive device.
The accessible entrance and exit to the National Courts Building is located off of H Street, between Vermont Avenue and 15th Street, NW (through the brick breezeway).
Lobby elevators go to all courtroom floors including the Clerk’s Office on the fourth floor. The seating in Courtrooms 201 and 203 requires no use of stairs. The seating in Courtroom 402 requires the use of stairs. An access lift is available to the public. A member of the courtroom or security staff can assist with lift access.
Business formal attire is expected of counsel, members of the bar, and those assisting with argument.
Attire for members of the public need only be restrained and appropriate to the dignity of the court.
The Federal Circuit has adopted the following rules of decorum for when the court is in session.
Courtrooms open for seating one hour before court begins. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Clerk’s Office does not reserve seating during oral arguments for parties or by special request of arguing counsel.
Only members of the Federal Circuit bar and government counsel appearing on behalf of a government entity may sit at the counsel tables or in the well of the court (i.e., inside the bar rail). Parties and legal support staff may not sit at the counsel tables or in the well of the court unless they are also members of the Federal Circuit bar or registered government counsel.
All electronic devices, including computers, laptops, tablets, phones, and other mobile devices, must be turned off while in the courtroom. However, arguing counsel may use laptops or tablet devices in silent mode while seated at the counsel tables.