Monday, April 5, 2010
Article alert: "May it please the classroom: using pending United States Supreme Court cases to teach appellate advocacy and persuasive writing"
This one is by Ohio practitioner Greg Johnson and can be found in 12 Scribes J. Legal Wrting 99 (2008-2009). From the introduction:
Over the years, the legal-writing academy has developed a rich array of ways to teach persuasive writing. The “Idea Bank” on the Legal Writing Institute's listsery contains dozens of creative approaches using compelling fact patterns developed by experienced professors across the country. While these problems have served many legal-writing professors well, I will offer an alternative to the “canned” problem -- that is, one based on a fictitious case and designed for repeated use.For more than two decades, professors in the legal-writing department at Vermont Law School have used pending United States Supreme Court cases to teach a three-credit course called Appellate Advocacy. Appellate Advocacy is taught by five professors in the fall semester of the second year, after students have had two semesters and five credits of legal writing in their first year. Each professor has about 40 students, divided into two sections. Each professor picks a different Supreme Court case. The students write a brief based on the actual case. Students then argue the case in a moot-court setting before volunteer lawyers and judges from across Vermont and New Hampshire.This program has been in place at Vermont for over 20 years. We are convinced that it's one of the best ways to teach persuasive writing and appellate advocacy. In this article, I'll describe how our Appellate Advocacy program works, highlighting what I see as the major advantages and disadvantages of using live United States Supreme Court cases in the legal-writing curriculum.