This clinic allows 12 students to engage in the hands-on practice of appellate litigation through actual cases before various federal circuit courts of appeals. The students are teamed up and assigned to handle primary responsibility for work on at least one appellate case during the course of the year. In addition, the students work together as a small law firm to provide secondary-level assistance to each other.

Clinic students identify the issues to be raised on appeal through factual analysis and legal research, prepare opening and reply briefs persuasively advocating for the client’s position on those issues and, in a number of cases, personally present oral argument on the issues to the appellate court. Because of the requirements contained in the student practice rules at these courts of appeals, this clinic is only open to third-year students.

Students are expected to attend a weekly class that covers key topics of appellate practice and procedure, and will participate in group discussion of issues relating to the cases pending in the clinic generally. Student teams also meet individually with the clinic director for guidance on preparing the appeals for which they are primarily responsible. Finally, all students will have the opportunity to participate in multiple moot courts designed to enhance their argument skills.

Through this process, clinic students receive real, professional training in the arts of oral and written advocacy, as it is practiced in some of the highest courts in the nation. The clinic’s caseload is expected to include both civil and criminal cases, as well as cases involving government agencies.  Occasionally, students will work on amicus briefs, petitions for rehearing and petitions for writs of certiorari.

Students interested in this clinic must submit an application to the clinic directors and rank the clinic in the clinic lottery within the timeline set by the Student Records Office. Students selected for the clinic through the clinic lottery process will be automatically enrolled prior to the regular course lottery.

The positions that the clinic takes on behalf of its clients are independent of the views of the University of Virginia or the School of Law.

Scott Ballenger
Assistant Professor of Law, General Faculty
Director, Appellate Litigation Clinic
Skills Taught
Oral and written advocacy, appellate practice, research, petitions, preparing opening and reply briefs
S/U (fall); H/P/F (spring)
Course Credits
8 (4 fall/4 spring)