The appellate courts play an important role in explaining what our laws mean and, especially in cases involving fundamental rights, their decisions can have far-reaching effects that impact daily life. In the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic, students will engage in collaborative litigation in the state and federal courts of appeals on behalf of clients facing issues relating to civil rights, social and criminal justice, racial equity, and/or individual rights and liberties. Students will develop appellate advocacy skills while working to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to live as their fullest self with dignity and respect. Our cases harness the impact of the appellate courts in an effort to protect and expand individual rights and to make our systems of government more fair and just.
Case projects typically include representing parties or amici curiae before the state or federal courts of appeals or courts of last resort. Students will strengthen their legal analytical skills by engaging in critical analysis of issues raised in the clinic’s cases. They will learn strategies to become mini-experts in the subject matter of each project, as well as learn general skills in appellate practice. They will strengthen their written advocacy abilities through brief and memorandum writing under close supervision of and in collaboration with the clinic director. They will strengthen their oral advocacy skills through oral arguments (when possible), simulations, or class presentations. The clinic also will foster skills in collaboration, as students will work in teams on case assignments and engage with all clinic participants in case rounds. Finally, students will hone their ability to conduct themselves in a professional manner while working with clinic clients and co-counsel.
In the weekly seminar, students will study key aspects of appellate advocacy, strategize on casework, and engage with guest speakers who are experts in the appellate field.