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Thinking Like a Litigator (McConnell/Magaziner)
Fall 2020   LAW 911-001  

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Meeting Times/Location
T 4:30PM - 6:30PM

Stephen McConnell

Adjunct Professor of Law

Fred Magaziner

Adjunct Professor of Law

Additional Information
Experiential Course


Skills Training
Oral Presentations
Team Projects
Drafting Legal Documents
Expository Writing
Other Professional Skills:

50% Participation,
50% Paper,
Other (As explained in the course description, grades are based on the weekly emails, class participation and the six papers (five short and one long) . Roughly speaking, class participation counts for about 50% of the final grade and the emails and papers account for the other 50%.)

Take Home,
Open-Book (The final paper/exam is based on a hypothetical case and there are no materials that will likely be useful to students, but students are free to consult whatever they want.)

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement



Class meets online.

Remote access is via


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:

- Classes are not regularly recorded but a particular session can be recorded if we know in advance that several students are going to have to miss it. Otherwise, students who miss a class are encouraged not only to speak with classmates but also to make an appointment with one of us to discuss what was missed. Indeed, both of us encourage all students, whether they missed a class or not, to meet with one or the other of us whenever they want to discuss any aspect of the course.



This course focuses on litigation strategy. (The course does NOT teach trial advocacy skills.)

We will work with a dozen hypothetical cases, often using actors to bring the cases to life. Students will assess the strengths and weaknesses of each case, identify possible outcomes, define what a "win" would be, and try to develop "winning" strategies and themes that can be applied to pleadings, motion practice, discovery, experts, settlement and trial.

No text is used and no reading is required other than the case materials. Students will not need to do any legal research but they will have to take into account the relevant substantive (mostly contract and tort) law. A course in Evidence will be helpful but it is not a prerequisite.

Students will actually do some of the things that litigators do day-to-day, such as reporting to more senior lawyers, advising clients, drafting pleadings, planning discovery, arguing discovery motions, taking (very short) depositions, evaluating experts and settling claims. Every student will "perform" about five times.

Students are expected to attend and actively participate in all class sessions. Every week, students will submit a very short email about newly introduced cases. Students will also write five short papers. In lieu of a final exam, students will write a long paper about a hypothetical case. Grades are based on (1) class participation, (2) the weekly emails, (3) the five short papers, and (4) the take-home final exam/paper.

LL.M. students with excellent spoken English skills are most welcome; students without such skills will likely find it difficult to perform in class and to participate fully in class discussions.

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.

Constitutional Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of constitutional law; Perform legal analysis in the context of constitutional law; Communicate effectively on topics related to constitutional law; Demonstrate an understanding of constitutional law affects other areas of law.

Professional Responsibility and Ethics Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.