[Update September 7, 2015] Back in March, 2011, I wrote this post to express frustration that the BIA had done such a poor job keeping its practice manual updated while requiring those practicing before the Board to comply with it.
Examples included its suggestion to use “Airborne Express” for courier, deliveries, although that company hadn’t existed since 2003. It also listed BIA members who weren’t members any longer.
My complaint wasn’t petty. From 2006 to 2011, the Board had barely touched the practice manual, and it in many ways it was incredibly out of date.
Thankfully, starting in June, 2013, the BIA has implemented a number of critical changes to the BIA Practice manual.
The Board also took down conflicting documents from its website, including the “Questions and Answers Regarding Proceedings Before the Board,” a document which preceded the practice manual and contradicted its guidance in several ways (at least one copy of this is still available online elsewhere).
The cover page lists only 8 Board members, including Fred Hess, Lauri S. Filppu, and Gerald S. Hurwitz, none of whom are currently members of the Board.
In briefing cases at the Board, we try to follow the practice manual as closely as possible. While some of its suggestions are stylistic, others are mandatory requirements for briefing, and knowing the practice manual well can improve one’s chances of filing a persuasive brief or simply getting the panel or Board member reading your brief to consider your arguments (this is especially true with pagination and citations to the record).
But as helpful as it is to have a practice manual, the agency does a terrible job of keeping it updated.
For example, it still suggests that you use “Airborne Express” to courier mail to the Board, even though they haven’t existed since 2003.
Isn’t it time to update your practice manual?