Course - Law

Advanced Legal Writing

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 The 2L Moot Court Competition and Advanced Appellate Advocacy program is designed to afford second-year law students an intensive exposure to the lawyer’s role as an appellate advocate. Students will be expected to draft an appellate brief arguing one side of a significant contemporary legal issue, and then prepare and present oral arguments on both sides of that issue.  All research and writing must be done independently – that is, without any outside assistance or collaboration with other moot court participants.  The only exception is that students will be assigned a mentor or mentors from the Moot Court Board, who will review and comment generally on student outlines and first drafts.

After completing their briefs, students will present oral arguments on both sides of the issue (“on-” and “off-” brief). Each student will participate in two practice oral argument rounds before Moot Court Board members, and two preliminary competitive rounds before panels of three lawyer-judges acting as a mock appellate tribunal. Students’ brief and argument scores will then be combined to determine which students will participate in the semi-final and final rounds of the competition. The six highest-scoring semifinalists will be eligible in their 3L year to represent the College of Law in the ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition, and the ten students with the highest overall scores in the competition will be asked to serve on the Moot Court Board as 3L students.


This course is appropriate both for students whose primary focus is on its competitive aspects, and who may wish to participate in the ABA (and serve on the Moot Court Board) during their third year, as well as for students who wish simply to improve their written and oral advocacy skills.


Although there is no required text, students should retain their legal-writing texts from their first-year legal-writing courses and their Advanced Legal Writing class.  Any required reading materials – such as useful articles or handouts – will be posted to the course page throughout the semester.  Other recommended texts include Bryan Garner’s The Winning Brief, Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner’s Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, and Ross Guberman’s Point Made:  How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates.

Course Format

Students will attend weekly classes, primarily during the first half of the semester, with presentations and in-class exercises and activities on appellate practice, advanced brief writing, and oral advocacy from the Program Director (Professor Salmon).  The oral-argument competition rounds will comprise the final weeks of the semester.

Written Assignments

Students will prepare an outline, first draft, and final draft of an appellate brief.  Students will also participate in occasional in-class writing exercises.

Type of Exam


Basis for grading

This course is graded Pass/Fail. A passing grade requires:

·       substantial independent legal research;

·       preparation of an outline of a brief;

·       preparation of a preliminary draft brief;

·       preparation of a final brief;

·       on- and off-brief practice arguments;

·       on- and off-brief preliminary round arguments;

·       participation (if selected) in the semi-final and final argument rounds;

·       all work to be of satisfactory quality and submitted in a timely fashion;

·       attendance and participation in class.

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