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Course Details

Appellate Advocacy (Ostrer)

Spring 2023   LAW 612-001  

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Mitchel Ostrer

Adjunct Professor of Law

Additional Information
Experiential Course


Skills Training
Oral Presentations
Drafting Legal Documents
Other Professional Skills: Appellate strategy. Appellate client relations.

20% Participation,
40% Paper,
40% Other (The final grade will be based forty percent each on written and oral work and twenty percent on class participation. )

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement



Class meets in person.

Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- Class sessions are regularly recorded. If you are absent due to illness or some other unavoidable circumstance, email me and I can send you an email with instructions for accessing the recording for the class session(s) you missed.

- I will make PowerPoint slides or other class materials routinely available on the course site to everyone in the class.

- When you are better, please make an appointment to meet with me and I will review/answer questions about what you missed.

Meeting Times/Location
T 4:30PM - 6:30PM
Golkin Hall 330



This course will introduce students to appellate advocacy. An effective appellate attorney is a skilled writer, a persuasive oralist, and an astute strategist who chooses the most promising issues to pursue on appeal after carefully reviewing the trial record and relevant case law in light of the standard of review. Students will be able to develop skills in all three aspects of appellate advocacy. We will also explore what judges (and their clerks) want to read in a brief and hear in oral argument, and what they don't. Students will have the opportunity to write a short brief and present oral argument to a panel of active or retired appellate judges in two cases – a civil appeal from an agency decision and an appeal from an order on a suppression motion in a criminal case. The appellate records will be short and relevant case law will be provided so students can focus on honing their appellate advocacy skills. Applying the “see one, do one” method, students will have the chance to read briefs and observe oral argument in a real appeal involving related legal issues before tackling each assignment. Observing lawyers in real cases helps demystify the appellate process and highlights lessons covered in class. We will also have visits from former law clerks and current appellate practitioners. Feedback will be available throughout the semester, including ungraded feedback during the brief-writing process; comments from the visiting judges; and one-on-one sessions after each case. The course will utilize materials from appeals in state court, where appellate advocates often practice, and where I worked, as an appellate judge. Required reading will include Point Made, by Ross Guberman, and short articles, excerpts and opinions that will be available through LEXIS or Westlaw.

Course Concentrations

Skills Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of the individual course skill; Demonstrate the ability to receive and implement feedback; Demonstrate an understanding of how and when the individual course skill is employed in practice.


"Point Made" by Ross Guberman
Edition: Second
Publisher: Oxford