Curriculum Guide · Courses
Appellate Courts and Advocacy Seminar
Professors Wolfman and Nicholls
J.D. Seminar 049 | 3 credit hours
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 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 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, there are 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 involved. 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 during over approximately the next five weeks. During that time, each student will have a one-on-one meeting with one of the professors 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 active student participation. One of the instructors, Brian Wolfman, is co-Director of GULC's Institute of Public Representation, where he directs a student-based clinic that handling individual civil rights cases and general public interest litigation. He is the former Director of Public Citizen Litigation Group, a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C., where he remains "of counsel." He has litigated dozens of cases in federal courts of appeals, state appellate courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The other instructor, Leah Nicholls, is currently a Graduate Fellow/Staff Attorney for the Institute for Public Representation (IPR), Georgetown Law’s public interest law firm and clinical education program. As an attorney at IPR, Professor Nicholls practices and supervises students practicing trial and appellate litigation in state and federal court relating to civil rights, government transparency, and consumer protection issues. Prior to joining IPR, Professor Nicholls served as the Supreme Court Assistance Project Fellow at Public Citizen Litigation Group after clerking for Justice Harriet O’Neill of the Supreme Court of Texas. She has argued in the Fourth Circuit and the Maryland Court of Appeals.
Prerequisites: Civil Procedure and Legal Research and Writing or Legal Process.
Students may not receive credit for both this seminar and the Appellate Practice Seminar.
Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory and all enrolled and waitlisted students must attend the first class in order to be enrolled. This course will be enrolled via waitlist. Class sessions will be held May 26 through June 22. Students will meet with the professors individually after June 22 to discuss their briefs.