Tips to Perfect Your First Court Appearance

Custom Legal Attire by Harcourts

Going to court for the first time is a major milestone, but also one that can feel pretty intimidating. Eventually, dressing in your legal attire to appear in court will feel second nature, but it does take some time to get there. The level of formality in a courtroom is a unique part of the job and should be taken seriously.

Whether you’ve just recently received your Call to the Bar or you’ve been working in a role that didn’t require you to appear in court, it’s natural to be nervous for your first time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting with a motion to compel or a summary judgment hearing, make sure you take some time to prepare in advance for your first court appearance.

4 Tips That Will Make Your First Court Appearance Go Smoothly

It goes without saying that you need to arrive on time. In fact, the best idea is to check the court calendar the day before so that you know for sure that your hearing is still scheduled and confirm the time. Additionally, know that every court can operate a little bit differently. Be sure to check the local court rules and follow the directions provided.

Follow these four tips outlined below and you’ll complete your first court appearance with confidence.

1. Dressing Appropriately

Lawyer robes are required when you attend a trial, motion, or appeal at Superior Court, Court of Appeal, Federal Court, and Supreme Court. Full legal attire includes a waistcoat, robe, winged collar shirt, tabs, black or charcoal pants or skirt with nylons, black shoes. Remember, proper legal dress is considered a uniform, meaning modifications are not appropriate.

When you attend other levels of the court where lawyer robes are not required, you should wear a traditional business suit with a jacket and tie or a blazer.

2. Know How to Start

When you arrive:

  • Approach the registrar and find your matters on the matter list
  • Keep track of your numbers.
  • Fill out counsel slips, available from the registrar, for each matter you are appearing for.
  • Be sure to introduce yourself to opposing counsel and then take a seat at the counsel table or gallery and wait until your matter is called.

3. Be Ready for Your Turn.

When called:

  • Approach the podium or front-most counsel table.
  • There should only be one person speaking at a time, and when it’s your turn to speak, stand up.
  • Stand when the judge enters and exits.
  • When you are speaking, speak slowly and deliberately.
  • Often a judge will begin by asking one of the attorneys a question. Address the question, but do not launch into the details of your case. You will have your turn to do so later on.

4. What You Need to Know About Courtroom Decorum.

During opposing counsel’s submissions, stay seated and do not interrupt. When addressing a witness, use their formal name. Be sure to turn off your cell phone, including notifications, and refrain from socializing with colleagues in the gallery during a hearing. If you do make a mistake while in court, admit it, apologize, and move on.

Find the Legal Attire You Need at Harcourts

Your legal attire always needs to be pressed and in good condition. Feeling confident in the courtroom starts by knowing you have the right robes and accessories. When you receive your Call to the Bar, it’s considered a rite of passage to get fitted for your custom robes and there’s no better place to do so than at Harcourts’ showroom in downtown Toronto. Investing in our custom made, quality robes means you’ll always maintain a professional and dignified appearance in court. We’re the oldest and largest manufacturer of legal robes in North America, and we would be happy to provide all the items you need. Contact us to find out more about placing your order.