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Supreme Court Clinic: Course Description

ProfessorsStephanos BibasJames A. Feldman, Stephen Kinnaird, and Nancy Bregstein Gordon
Yearlong:  4 credits per semester (Fall 2015 and Spring 2016)
MWTh: 1:30-2:50 p.m.
Clinic enrollment:  limited to 12 students

This year-long clinic will give students intensive, hands-on experience litigating cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Clinic will focus on the practical side of identifying and litigating real pending cases. In conjunction with the instructors and Supreme Court lawyers at a major Washington law firm, students will research and identify promising cases for Supreme Court review and take part in strategy sessions and conference calls, learning first-hand the tactical considerations that shape litigating positions and stances. They will then research and write first drafts of certiorari petitions, sections of merits briefs for the parties, and briefs amicus curiae at the certiorari and merits stages. Through intensive research, writing, editing, and rewriting, students will hone their legal-writing skills. Students will travel to Washington D.C. several times each semester to meet with experienced litigators and watch moot courts and oral arguments in the cases on which they have worked.

Students must be prepared to commit an average of twelve to fifteen hours per week to the Clinic throughout the entire academic year, though the load will probably be lighter right around the final examinations period. Students ordinarily may not drop or add this course without the instructor’s permission. Attendance is required and will factor into students’ grades. The clinic will meet on average twice a week—more when the clinic is busy and less when there are few deadlines approaching. Much communication and instruction will happen by email, in small-group meetings, and in conference calls. Classes will be not lectures but seminar-style discussions and teamwork on group projects.