May I proceed, Your Honor? My name is ___, and I represent ___.
Good morning Your Honors and counsel, [name] from ___, appearing for ___.
Thank you, Your Honors, may it please the Court, my name is ___, appearing on behalf of ___.
Thank you Your Honor and may it please the Court, [name], for the appellants here.
Thank you, Your Honors, good morning, may it please the Court, counsel, my name is ___, and I'm appearing on behalf of appellant ___.
May it please the Court, good morning.
These are just a few of the introductions made by litigants before oral argument to the Tenth Circuit this month. How do you introduce yourself to the Court? Do you invoke the traditional phrase "May it please the Court"? Do you acknowledge counsel on the other side? Do you state your name and who you represent? The Tenth Circuit's Practitioner's Guide does not require any particular greeting, but it does instruct counsel that, "[a]t the beginning of the argument, counsel should identify themselves to the court."
The Supreme Court takes the opposite approach. Its Guide for Counsel instructs that after the Chief Justice has recognized you by name, "you may acknowledge the Court by the usual: 'Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court. . . .' Do not introduce yourself or co-counsel." The "may" makes the greeting sound optional, but Supreme Court practitioners use it with near uniformity.
Whether you use that traditional greeting in the Tenth Circuit or other courts is up to you. Judges who have addressed the issue say it doesn't hurt, and it may be a useful icebreaker. Two pieces of advice: make it short (you don't want to waste valuable argument time on an introduction), and know what you're going to say ahead of time so that you don't hem and haw during your very first statements to the Court.