In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professor. This project-based practicum course will operate in conjunction with Georgetown Law’s Supreme Court Institute (SCI), which provides moot courts to Supreme Court advocates in virtually every case the Court hears each Term. Each moot court panel is composed of five “Justices,” professors or practitioners with experience in Supreme Court and appellate advocacy. This practicum will enable eight J.D. students to function as “law clerks” who will help prepare “Justices” to serve on SCI moot court panels. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out five hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professor.
SEMINAR: The seminar component of the practicum will explore the role and function of law clerks; the mechanics of writing a useful bench memo and draft opinion; and ethical dimensions of judicial clerkships, including confidentiality and influence. Seminar sessions will also feature guest speakers, including appellate judges and former judicial law clerks.
PROJECT WORK: Each student will be assigned a case scheduled for argument in the February or March sitting, for which he or she will prepare a “bench memorandum.” Prior to the moot court, the student will submit the memorandum to his or her assigned moot “Justice” – a Georgetown Law professor or local practitioner who has volunteered to serve on the moot panel – and will meet with the Justice for a “case conference” to discuss the case in preparation for the moot. After attending the moot court, the student will attend the oral argument, read the argument transcript, or listen to the audio recording, and write a postmortem review describing the ways in which the moot resembled and differed from the argument.
Writing, legal analysis, oral presentation, and other skills required to serve as an effective appellate law clerk; sensitivity to ethical issues such as confidentiality and influence on judicial decision-making.