👖 What it’s like to argue in front of SCOTUS...in a pandemic

For most lawyers, presenting an oral argument to the Supreme Court is a career milestone. You get to walk some of the nation’s most hallowed halls and look the United States’ best-known jurists in the eye. 

Except there’s that whole coronavirus thing, and now everything’s done over the phone. A few lawyers dished to the WSJ about the new SCOTUS experience.

  • Sweatshirts are OK: Lawyer Ramzi Kassem wore a hoodie from his law school classroom in Queens. Formal wear is no longer mandatory when nobody can see you.  

  • But a landline is: SCOTUS likes people to call in via landline, rather than smartphone. They don’t want any dropped calls. One young lawyer named Sarah Harris had to visit a friend’s house to make her argument on a landline. 

  • You have to worry about loud noises: A Philadelphia lawyer remembers a loud truck rolling up by his house just as the hearing began. He sent his son outside with $100 to convince any noisemakers to go away.  

  • You can make it as lifelike as you want: A Louisiana lawyer traveled to Washington DC for his argument, and a law firm hosted him -- in a room with nine framed pictures of the justices set atop nine podiums.