Curriculum Guide · Curriculum
Litigation and the Judicial Process
Traditionally, the law school courses most relevant to someone contemplating a career as a litigator have been the courses focusing on the "law" applied by courts in a litigation setting courses such as civil and criminal procedure, evidence, federal jurisdiction, and conflict of laws. Knowledge of those subjects is of course important to a litigator, and Georgetown offers a full array of such courses.
In addition to knowing the law, however, an effective litigator must develop skills in the areas of factual analysis, written and oral argument, and effective communication, as well as a sense of drama and artistry. Until relatively recently, law schools offered virtually no formal training in how to try a case in court. New attorneys were forced to develop litigation skills on their feet, often at the expense of their first few clients. During the past twenty years, this situation has changed considerably. Although in-court experience continues to serve an essential role in a new litigator's training, a student can gain a solid foundation in these skills through clinical courses and from the numerous practice oriented courses and seminars. Georgetown has been a leader in this evolving field, and the Law Center offers an extraordinary range of opportunities to study litigation and the judicial process in a clinical setting, or in simulation seminars such at Trial Advocacy, Negotiations, and Appellate Practice.
Finally, although one's image of a litigator may be predicated on the great courtroom dramas of our time (actual and fictional), many civil litigators rarely try a case in court. Much litigation takes place before administrative fact-finding bodies. While criminal trials do take place in the courts, many criminal cases are resolved by dismissal or pleas of guilty. Most civil and criminal litigation involves pre-trial work: investigation, drafting a complaint or motions, discovery, briefing and arguing pre-trial motions. Countless cases are won or lost without ever empaneling a jury -- often because they are settled out of court or resolved on summary judgment. Thus, the skills one needs as a litigator are not limited to trial skills. Perhaps the two most important skills one can develop are legal writing and case planning. One may improve writing skills either by taking legal writing courses or by taking seminars (in whatever subject areas that interest you) in which you write a paper. Planning skills are best developed in clinics and in seminars that stress analysis of problems requiring a legal solution.
J.D. Courses Evidence, Federal Courts and the Federal System, and Conflict of Laws: Choice of Law are essential building blocks for any practitioner. No litigator can function effectively without an in-depth understanding of how the rules of evidence govern the presentation of facts to a judge or jury. A course on Federal Courts provides necessary background on the constitutional and statutory concepts that define and limit the roles played by the federal and state judiciary in our system of government. Conflict of Laws addresses how courts resolve multistate or multi-nation disputes, including issues such as jurisdiction, choice of the governing law, and recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered by the courts of other states or nations.
Administrative Law is also an important course offering. Because a substantial amount of trial and appellate work occurs before administrative agencies, it is useful to have a thorough understanding of their operations and procedures.
Those interested in international practice are strongly advised to take Conflict of Laws: Choice of Law and should consider taking, in addition, the graduate course International Civil Litigation, and the clinic Center for Applied Legal Studies, where students represent applicants for political asylum.
Beyond these courses, students should take whatever courses interest them. Litigators may be generalists, taking on whatever issues present themselves, or specialists, developing an expertise in particular areas of the law. In this sense, every course taken in law school helps to develop a litigator by introducing substantive areas of the law and refining analytical skills. Thus, students should take courses that inspire them and not feel compelled to take specific substantive courses unless they are of interest and further their particular educational goals.
J.D. Seminars and Clinics
Students whose interest lies primarily in appellate work should consider taking the Civil Litigation Seminar and at least one practice oriented course in appellate advocacy, such as the Appellate Practice Seminar and the Appellate Litigation Clinic. Students with a particular interest in the U.S. Supreme Court should consider taking the Solicitor General Seminar and the Supreme Court Seminar.
Other seminars, skill offerings, and clinics may be important because of the particular area of substantive law they address. Those interested in public interest work should certainly take Constitutional Law II, and may wish to enroll in any one of the Law Center's public interest litigation-oriented clinical programs, and should also consider seminars such as the Homelessness, Poverty, and Legal Advocacy Seminar, Housing Today: Lawyering Affordable Housing Seminar, Poverty Law and Policy Seminar and the Public Interest Advocacy.
As mentioned above, students interested in international practice should consider taking the Conflict of Laws: Choice of Law, where students examine the issues related to litigating cases involving persons or event connected with more than one nation, and the Center for Applied Legal Studies, where students represent applicants for political asylum.
Students who wish to focus on criminal litigation should, at a minimum, enroll in Criminal Law and either Advanced Criminal Procedure, Advanced Criminal Procedure and Litigation, or Federal White Collar Crime. They may continue to pursue this interest through course work in the Advanced Evidence: Supreme Court and the Constitution Seminar, Role of the Federal Prosecutor, and either the Criminal Justice or Juvenile Justice Clinic, where students represent adult and juvenile defendants in local criminal cases. (Students interested in criminal litigation should also consult the cluster on "Criminal Law and Procedure" above.)
Many specialized civil practice courses also exist. The Class Action Law and Practice Seminar focuses on the class action device as an attempt to resolve disputes on an aggregate basis. The Civil Discovery Seminar is a two-credit seminar that introduces students to the legal and ethical principles involved in the various methods of conducting civil discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Civil Litigation Practice is a year long, four-credit seminar that brings students through the entire course of a civil trial. In the fall semester, the seminar covers, using a core model case, initial interviews, fact analysis, drafting claims and defenses, and civil discovery. In the second semester, the model case is carried to trial. Students may not receive credit for this seminar and the Civil Discovery Seminar, Patent Trial Practice, Trial Practice or any of the following clinics: Center for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Criminal Justice, Domestic Violence, International Women's Human Rights Seminar, Juvenile Justice and Law Students in Court. The Civil Litigation Seminar teaches students oral and written advocacy for civil litigation, using assignments based on actual public interest law cases. Finally, Litigation with the Federal Government studies jurisdictional and other procedural issues that arise in civil litigation involving suits brought by and against the federal government.
Other offerings in civil practice include the Advanced Evidence: Supreme Court and the Constitution Seminar, Intellectual Property Litigation: Pretrial Skills, Patent Trial Practice, and several clinical programs, including the Domestic Violence Clinic, which focuses on domestic violence litigation; the Institute for Public Representation, which focuses on communications, environmental and civil rights cases; and Law Students in Court, which focuses on landlord/tenant cases.
Georgetown's course offerings in the area of litigation and the judicial process are numerous and varied, and include the largest and most diverse clinical education program in the country. Students who would like to explore further how to choose or prioritize among these courses should feel free to consult any professor who teaches in this area.
Appellate Litigation Clinic
Center for Applied Legal Studies
Community Justice Project
Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic
Criminal Justice Clinic
Domestic Violence Clinic
Institute for Public Representation
Babcock, Hope (Offered)
Campbell, Angela J. (Offered)
Nicholls, Leah M.
Wolfman, Brian (Offered)
International Women's Human Rights Clinic
Juvenile Justice Clinic
Law Students in Court
Ahn, Kathy (Offered)
Bentzen, Marc (Offered)
Goemann, Richard C. (Offered)
Neal, Nathan A.
Neal, Nathan A.
Parker, Ara D.
Parker, Ara D.
Pettus, Brandee A.
Pettus, Brandee A. (Offered)
Street Law: Community
Street Law: High School
Advanced Criminal Procedure
Advanced Criminal Procedure and Litigation
Class Action Law and Practice
Conflict of Law: Choice of Law (International Focus)
Conflict of Laws: Choice of Law
Braga, Stephen L.
Causey, William F. (Offered)
Fisher, Gerald I. (Offered)
Gottesman, Michael H. (Offered)
Morin, Robert E. (Offered)
Rostain, Tanina (Offered)
Rothstein, Paul F. (Offered)
Tague, Peter W. (Offered)
Wasserstrom, Silas J. (Offered)
Federal Courts and the Federal System
Raab, Michael S. (Offered)
Rosenkranz, Nicholas Q.
Vazquez, Carlos M. (Offered)
Vladeck, David C. (Offered)
Government Enforcement Investigations: A Study at the SEC
International Litigation in U.S. Courts
Litigation with the Federal Government
Public Interest Advocacy Seminar
Role of the Federal Prosecutor
Complex Securities Investigations
Global Commerce and Litigation
International Civil Litigation and Federal Practice
Tax Practice and Procedure (Litigation)
Animal Protection Litigation Seminar
Federal Criminal Investigation: Investigating Extraterritorial Crime
Federal Fraud Prosecution: Theory and Practice
Fighting Organized Crime in the 21st Century
SCI Judicial Clerkship Practicum
Structural Challenges to Indigent Defense Systems
The Law of Open Government: Litigation Under the Freedom of Information Act
Advanced Evidence: Supreme Court and the Constitution Seminar
Advanced Evidence: Trial Skills
Advanced Legal Writing Seminar
Advanced Patent Law Seminar
Advocacy Tools for the 21st Century Public Interest Lawyer
Anatomy of a Federal Criminal Trial: The Prosecution and the Defense Perspective
Appellate Courts and Advocacy Workshop
Appellate Practice Seminar
Civil Litigation Practice: From the Complaint to the Courthouse Steps
Class Action Law and Practice Seminar
Constitutional Law Seminar: Suing the Sovereign
Contract Law Seminar: Franchising
Effective Use of Courtroom Technology
Electronic Discovery Seminar
Federal Investigations and Prosecutions
Federal Litigation Practice: Litigating Challenges to Federal Agency Decisions
First Amendment Litigation Seminar: Exploring the Strategic Decision-making Role of Lawyers
Health Care Fraud and Abuse Seminar
Homelessness, Poverty, and Legal Advocacy Seminar
Housing Today: Lawyering Affordable Housing Seminar
Judicial Review of Military Justice Proceedings: Current Issues and Constitutional Perspectives (formerly: Judicial Review of Military Justice Proceedings: Separation and Sharing of Powers in Historical Perspective)
Judicial Review of Military Justice Proceedings: Separation and Sharing of Powers in Historical Perspective
Judicial Themes in Literature Seminar
Jury Trials in America: Understanding and Practicing Before a Pure Form Democracy
Litigation Risk Management Seminar
Modern Litigation Theory and Practice Seminar
Supreme Court Institute Workshop
Supreme Court Litigation Seminar
Supreme Court Litigation Seminar – A Case Study
Supreme Court Seminar
Trial Practice Seminar: Working with Expert Witnesses
Trial Practice and Applied Evidence
Truth, Falsehood, and the Law
Civil Litigation Practice
Bird, C. Coleman (Offered)
Gere, Elizabeth S.
Jones, Charles A.
Russell-Hunter, Peregrine D. (Offered)
Intellectual Property Litigation: Pretrial Skills
Chang, Steve S. (Offered)
Katz, Robert S. (Offered)
McKee, Christopher L. (Offered)
Minsker, Helen H.
Roth, Christopher B. (Offered)
Stockton, Richard S.
Patent Trial Practice
Altherr, Robert F. (Offered)
Meeker, Frederic M.
Potenza, Joseph M. (Offered)
Roth, Christopher B. (Offered)
Presentation Skills For Lawyers Seminar
Attridge, Daniel F.
Barnett, Erik R.
Belcuore, Alfred F. (Offered)
Bennett, Edward J. (Offered)
Cary, Robert M. (Offered)
Casper, Ari S. (Offered)
Coffey, John P. (Offered)
Connor, Deborah L. (Offered)
Cooper, James L.
DeVille, Duncan (Offered)
DuBose, Michael M.
Duross, Charles E. (Offered)
Gersch, David P.
Hayes, John C.
Jones, Michael D. (Offered)
Koukios, James M.
Mitchell, Denis (Offered)
Rizer, Arthur L.
Rusch, Jonathan J. (Offered)
Scheininger, Michael G.
Sechler, Philip (Offered)
Sharrin, Andrea M. (Offered)
Vasquez, Francis A. (Offered)
Vasquez, Mary H. (Offered)
Yannucci, Thomas D. (Offered)
Related JD Offerings
Introduction to Electronic Discovery and Evidence