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Fall 2023 Seminar

Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy Workshop

Prerequisites: By Permission. Interested students should send a resume and a brief statement describing their interest in the course and in appellate advocacy to Laura Zeng( Deadline: August 1st

Exam Type: No Exam

Grading will be based on class participation and guided writing exercises.

This course will focus on the art and practice of Supreme Court and appellate advocacy through a classroom-workshop approach. The course will offer a comprehensive overview of appellate advocacy covering matters such as how to define the issues for appeal; the process of seeking discretionary review in an appellate court; how to draft persuasive briefs; and how to prepare for and deliver an effective oral argument. It will also introduce students to pathways to a career as an appellate advocate. The class will focus on the federal appellate system, with a particular emphasis on the Supreme Court, but the skills covered in the course can be applied in any appellate court. The writing and advocacy exercises will draw from actual cases involving cutting-edge legal issues – such as cases involving the First Amendment, the separation of powers, criminal procedure, or complex jurisdictional questions. This will allow class members to grapple with inherently interesting substantive questions on an array of topics as they develop their advocacy skills.

The centerpiece of the class experience will be interactive writing and oral advocacy exercises. The course will employ a writer’s workshop approach that builds advocacy skills through the sharing of work product and crowd-sourcing of feedback. Each class session will target a discrete aspect of appellate practice, broken down into its essential components. To make the learning experience concrete, we will provide an overview of the topic for the day (for example, the purpose of the “questions presented” section of a brief and the options for crafting those questions), and students will participate in guided writing or oral advocacy exercises designed to hone particular skills. Students will also participate in moot courts as both advocates and judges. The course is designed for students who are interested in developing their talents in appellate advocacy through participatory exercises in a collaborative, supportive environment. It is also ideal for students planning to serve as judicial law clerks

In addition to focusing on written and oral appellate advocacy, the course will also offer guidance on other aspects of litigating an appeal, such as learning the rules of appellate procedure, working with the Solicitor General’s Office, and working with potential amici. Some sessions may feature guest speakers with expertise in appellate advocacy who can offer insight drawn from experience. Appellate advocacy is an art form that can only be perfected through practice and observation of master practitioners. This course will offer students a window into how virtuoso appellate lawyers learned their vocation and how they carry it out.