S Course Finder • Penn Law
Skip to main content area Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to search Skip to section navigation


Appellate Advocacy (Sweitzer)
Fall 2020   LAW 612-003  

« Back to Search Results

Meeting Times/Location
W 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Silverman Hall 245A

Brett Sweitzer


Additional Information
Experiential Course


Skills Training
Oral Presentations
Drafting Legal Documents
Other Professional Skills:

25% Participation,
75% Other (15% motion brief on jurisdiction; 10% jurisdiction oral argument; 25% merits brief; 25% merits oral argument)

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:

- If you will be absent, please email me in advance and I will arrange for the class to be recorded.

- Please make an appointment to meet with me and I will review/answer questions about what you missed.



This course is designed to provide a thorough introduction to appellate practice. The most obvious component of that is brief writing and oral argument, and developing your written and oral advocacy skills will be a central focus. There will be two main assignments in this regard: a shorter motion brief concerning jurisdiction over an appeal, and a lengthier merits brief. Both assignments are set in the criminal context, but that matters little as the jurisdiction assignment is purely procedural and both assignments are based on a “closed” record and case list that will be provided to you. We will not be focusing on legal research skills per se. There will be an informal oral argument on the jurisdiction motion, which is designed in part as practice for the more formal oral argument on the merits brief at the end of the semester. Because seeing can be a helpful aid to doing, we will also follow an appeal being litigated in the Third Circuit by reviewing the briefs and observing oral argument. The written and oral advocacy skills addressed in the course are equally applicable to a litigation practice at the trial court level.

But this is not just an advanced written and oral advocacy course. We will also focus on some of the broader aspects of appellate practice, such as the decision to appeal, issue selection, ethical obligations of counsel, jurisdiction of the appellate courts, and standards of review. This part of the course is designed to give you a window into what it’s like to be an appellate specialist—a distinct discipline that goes beyond simply being a good writer and oralist.

We will use a coursebook, Provenzano et al.'s Advanced Appellate Advocacy, supplemented by occasional additional readings posted on Canvas. The reading requirements will be light, but essential to class discussion. A tentative syllabus and assignment schedule, as well as class procedures, are available under the "Files" tab on Canvas.

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.

Courts and the Judicial System Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of both substantive and procedural issues in the operation of our legal system; Perform legal analysis in the context of procedural issues and the judicial process; Communicate effectively on topics related to procedure and the judicial process; Demonstrate an understanding of how procedural issues and the judicial process affect all other area of our legal system.


"Advanced Appellate Advocacy" by Provenzano, et al.
Edition: 2016
Publisher: Aspen Pub
ISBN: 9781454847205