Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Appellate Litigation Practicum

While it is common for law students to prepare briefs and argue hypothetical appellate problems in their classes or in front of jurists at competitions, few have the opportunity to stand before sitting judges to fight for real people facing potentially life-altering challenges. The Appellate Litigation Practicum offers students an opportunity to work with a professor in litigating pro bono appeals in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals - up to and including oral argument before the court.

Cases for the practicum are chosen from the list provided by the Ninth Circuit's pro bono office, which appoints lawyers to represent pro se litigants - those filing appeals without legal counsel - and encourages law school clinics (or practicums) to take on these cases.

Students in this practicum receive hands-on training in legal research and writing, as well as substantive law as it applies to the cases. They participate in every step of the process, including review of the file; meeting with the client; assessing possible claims; researching case law; proposing arguments; drafting, revising, and proofing the opening brief; reviewing the response brief; drafting, revising, and proofing the reply brief; and negotiating possible settlement. The course meets once a week to discuss the research and writing tasks for the upcoming week, as well as talk about litigation strategy in general. Unless a case is won on the briefs or settled, oral argument is guaranteed, and one student is selected to present the case before the Court.

While enrollment is by invitation, interested students should contact Professor Gowri Ramachandran or Adjunct Professor Andrew Knapp.

Click the links below for stories about student participation in this practicum: