Monday, February 11, 2008

primer for student appellate oral arguments

It's almost time for the annual rite of passage for first-year students--the appellate oral argument. For a fresh take on advice to give your students, take a look at “Stepping Up to the Podium with Confidence: A Primer for Law Students on Preparing and Delivering an Appellate Oral Argument,” a work-in-progress written by Indianapolis prof James Dimitri.  Here's the abstract on SSRN:

Virtually all law students are required to learn oral advocacy skills at some point during their legal education. Typically, these skills are cultivated through at least one oral argument assignment, which often consists of an appellate oral argument that is given as part of the students' first-year legal research and writing course or as part of a moot court competition.

While appellate courts do not grant oral argument as often as they used to, oral advocacy remains a critical skill for law students to learn and cultivate, no matter which facet of law practice they enter upon graduation. Unfortunately, the prospect of learning this critical skill can be disquieting to students. Students may, however, ease their anxiety and ultimately deliver an excellent oral argument if they fully understand the purposes of the argument and if they thoroughly prepare for the argument.

This article is targeted at oral argument novices. It discusses how a beginner to appellate oral argument may effectively prepare and deliver an argument, particularly if the argument is given as part of a law school's legal research and writing course or as part of a moot court competition.


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