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Winter 2024 Course

Appellate Courts and Advocacy Workshop

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The Appellate Courts and Advocacy Workshop combines a substantive review of key appellate litigation doctrines concerning appellate jurisdiction, standards of review, and other topics, with a significant litigation-skills 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 concluding with an intense review of the anatomy of an appellate brief. We will also briefly consider U.S. Supreme Court practice. Students considering clerkships, particularly appellate clerkships, after graduation generally find this course useful.

There are about a half dozen small-to-medium-sized writing assignments, which have two purposes: They introduce students to an aspect of appellate practice, and they 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 involved.

The doctrinal portion of the course and the corresponding small-to-medium-sized writing assignments will be covered during the first two weeks of the January Term. The appellate brief will be completed early in the Spring Term. During the Spring Term, each student will have a one-on-one meeting with the teacher to review a draft appellate brief.

The instructor, Brian Wolfman, is a Professor from Practice and Director of the Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic at Georgetown Law. Before that, he was a co-director of Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Before joining Stanford in 2014, for five years, Mr. Wolfman was co-Director of Georgetown Law’s Institute of Public Representation, where he directed a student-based clinic that handled a mix of individual civil-rights cases and public-interest “impact” litigation. He is the former Director of Public Citizen Litigation Group, a public-interest law firm in Washington, D.C., where he practiced for nearly 20 years. He began his career as a poverty lawyer in rural Arkansas. He has litigated dozens of cases in courts of appeals and in the Supreme Court. Feel free to direct questions about the class to Mr. Wolfman at

Note: The credit breakdown for this course is as follows: three total credits, with two law classroom credits awarded during the January Term and one writing credit awarded during the Spring Term.

This course will meet for the first two weeks of the winter term.

This course is open to upper-level JD students only.