Saint Louis University

Appellate Advocacy

If you plan on attending law school, Introduction to Appellate Advocacy is a must-take. This class will not only strengthen your critical and analytical thinking skills, it will also teach you legal reasoning.

Each student will give an appellate oral argument on both sides of a legal issue. Students will be provided with the information needed to develop these arguments.

The appellate arguments will be given to a panel of three attorneys who act as appellate justices. This argument follows a general debate style in which one student gives an argument on the appellant side of issue one, and then that student's partner gives the argument for the appellate side of issue two. Then two other students from a different team give the appellee arguments of issue one and issue two, and the debate ends with a brief rebuttal argument from the appellant side.

The difference between appellate arguments and debates is that the attorneys acting as justices will interrupt students while they are presenting their arguments to ask questions. Students are expected to answer the question and resume their arguments.

The format of appellate argument will help students to think on their feet. This experience develops legal reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical skills which help prepare students for law school.

In fact, most law schools have moot court teams that compete with the same type of appellate arguments. The main difference between the law school competition teams and the undergraduate teams are that the law school competitions do not provide the information needed to prepare the arguments.

In addition to preparing and giving appellate arguments, the instructor will teach students about the appellate process. Students will learn answers to questions such as:

When can you file an appeal?
How do you file an appeal?
How will the appeal be reviewed by the court?

Students will also learn how to write an appellate brief. This course is taught by an attorney who has experience in appellate practice.

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