–From Melissa John, Northeastern University School of Law, Date of event: 2001

Having gone straight from college to law school, I didn’t even own a suit by the time first-year mock oral arguments came around. The weekend before I was scheduled, I hit Filene’s and bought a brand new “power suit.” I looked pretty sharp, felt pretty good, and come oral argument time, I was ready to blow them away.

As I put the suit on, I realized, in terror, that there in very obvious plain view was the shoplifting tag that the Filene’s clerk had left on my jacket! Not having any time to stop at a store to get it removed before the argument, I just went to school, hoping no one would notice. Wouldn’t you know, the first words out of my opponent’s mouth were: “Your Honor, opposing counsel is a common criminal and shoplifter, how can you believe anything this woman says?!”

Needless to say, that comment broke the ice, and I was able to make my argument with a lot less tension.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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