Attending Oral Arguments

COVID-19 Protocol Notice: The court has issued new Revised Protocols for In-Person Arguments for arguing counsel.

Court sessions are open to the public with multiple panels of the court typically sitting each day during the first full week of each month. Before attending an argument at the Federal Circuit, please take a moment to review the following information.

Guide for Oral Argument

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.

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Counsel Check-in

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: Revised Protocols for In-Person Argument (pdf).

Lawyers’ Lounge

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 Circuit Library.

Wireless Internet Access

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).

Please review the Federal Circuit’s Terms of Use and Disclaimer (pdf) before using the court’s wireless internet access system.

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:

  • The following items are prohibited: weapons and self-defense items of any type, knives and any items with a cutting or sharp edge, aerosol containers, tools, chemicals, flammable or explosive materials.
  • To speed the screening process, please remove all items in your pockets before passing through the magnetometer.  Place any items in your bags or place them in the trays provided by the court security officer before you go through the metal detector.  This will save you time and may prevent you from having to be scanned a second time with a hand-held wand.
  • A court security officer may ask you to remove your belt, any jewelry (including watches and large earrings), and shoes before proceeding through the magnetometer.
  • After security screening, you will need to present a government-issued photo identification and will be issued a visitors’ badge to be worn while in the building.  Please return your visitors’ badge to one of the security officers as you leave the courthouse after arguments.

For more information on courthouse security, please refer to Administrative Order 2024-02.

Communication Accessibility

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.

Mobility-Based Accessibility

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.

  • The dignity of the Court is to be respected and maintained at all times.
  • Attire for counsel and spectators should be restrained and appropriate to the dignity of a Court of Appeals of the United States.
  • Court security officers and Court staff are authorized to open and inspect any item carried into a courtroom.
  • Everyone in the courtroom, unless physically unable to do so, must rise when the judges enter and remain standing until the presiding judge invites everyone to be seated. Similarly, when court adjourns, everyone stands in place until the judges are no longer visible.
  • Standing in the courtroom may be permitted only at the discretion of the Clerk.
  • Areas marked as reserved are for Court Staff and Federal Circuit Law Clerks.
  • Only members in good standing of the Federal Circuit bar may sit either at counsel tables or within the well of the court when court is in session Counsel may address the court when invited to do so.
  • Only counsel associated with the appeal being argued may address the Court, unless a judge directs otherwise.
  • Coats, outerwear, and large bags must be stored at the coat racks outside the courtroom areas. Arguing counsel may bring in bags containing materials necessary for argument.
  • Only material relating to the Court’s business can be read in the courtroom while court is in session.
  • When Court is in session, no one should be heard except for counsel making argument or a judge.
  • The following activities are prohibited in the courtroom and adjacent lobby area while court is in session:
    • Audio or visual recording or broadcasting of any kind;
    • Photographing of any kind;
    • Eating or drinking, except for water provided at the counsel tables; and
    • Using any electronic device, including computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices (including phones), except by counsel in argued cases while seated at counsel tables.
  • All electronic devices must be turned off before entering the courtroom, except those used by counsel while at the counsel tables.
  • Repeated entrances and departures are to be avoided. Doorways and passageways should be kept clear at all times.

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.