The Appellate Courts and Advocacy Workshop combines a substantive review of key appellate litigation doctrines concerning appellate jurisdiction, standards of review, issue preservation, and other topics, with an intensive advocacy component, including motion and brief writing. The course considers each stage of the appellate litigation process, beginning with a general overview, moving to the various bases for appellate jurisdiction in the federal courts, then discussing standards of review, and other doctrinal issues, and then concluding with an intense review of the anatomy of an appellate brief. We will also briefly consider U.S. Supreme Court practice. Students considering judicial clerkships after graduation may find this course useful.
During the doctrinal portion of the class, students complete about a half dozen small to medium-sized writing assignments. These assignments do two things: They introduce students to some aspect of appellate practice and demand application of one or more of the course's doctrinal topics. In addition to these smaller assignments, students are also responsible for writing an appellate brief. For all assignments, students are provided copies of relevant practice rules, statutes, cases, and other items. No outside research is permitted.
The doctrinal portion of the course, and the corresponding small to medium-sized writing assignments, will be covered during the eight three-hour class sessions over the first four weeks of the Summer Term. The appellate brief will be completed over approximately the next five weeks. During that time, each student will have a one-on-one meeting with the professor to review a draft appellate brief. The student will then submit a final version of the brief.
All students are expected to attend class. Students should prepare for class by reading the assigned materials and completing the writing assignment and are expected to discuss the materials and assignments in class. A practice-oriented small class depends on preparation and active student participation.
The instructor, Brian Wolfman, is Director of GULC’s Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic, which litigations public-interest appeals of all kinds. He is the former co-director of Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and GULC’s civil rights clinic. Before entering clinical teaching, Prof. Wolfman was the former Director of Public Citizen Litigation Group, a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C. He has litigated dozens of cases in federal courts of appeals, state appellate courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
For a detailed course description and syllabus, please contact the instructor at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The learning goals of this course are (1) mastery of the basic doctrine of the law of federal appellate courts (in particular, jurisdiction, standards of review, and scope of review); (2) providing students with a critical understanding of the doctrine enabling them to make credible arguments about the doctrine’s gaps and ambiguities; and (3) enhancing students’ persuasive writing skills.