This morning as I stood in line waiting my turn to argue a motion, I listened to some of the other arguments. It was a typical state-court docket call, in which the judge sat at his bench and waited for the lawyers to approach him with the file when they were ready to argue.
What ensued in most cases was four or five minutes of confusion, as the lawyers launched into their arguments without properly setting the stage for the judge.
What do I mean by "setting the stage"? I suppose each argument is unique in some respects, but I typically introduce myself; tell the judge which party I represent, including whether it's a plaintiff or defendant; describe the motion that's being argued (e.g., "We're here on my motion for a protective order"); and state the legal issue to be decided in a way that makes my position evident ("A protective order is necessary because the defendant wants my client to travel out of state for his deposition, when the rules do not require that"). Only then do I get into the facts and the law.
It seems hard to believe that lawyers would start their argument any other way. What I heard today, though, was lawyers starting smack in the middle of their arguments, e.g., "Your Honor, two weeks ago, the defendant's lawyer sent me a deposition notice for my client. It stated that the location of the deposition is in Indiana, where the defendant is headquartered. As your Honor knows, that's 300 miles away. I then filed a motion for a protective order. That's what we're here today about."
Eventually, you end up at the same point. If you begin at the beginning, however, you'll leave the judge feeling less confused, since he'll know from the start what he's going to be called upon to decide. That's information I think he'll want to know.