Pretrial Litigation Skills: Civil Rights

Section 1, Spring 23

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 5/12
Credits: 3
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • MW
  • 1410-1530
  • WB129
01/23/2023 04/26/2023
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

This course is a simulation of the pretrial litigation of a federal civil rights/civil liberties casefile, although the skills taught in this course are mostly relevant to federal civil litigation generally. The course takes you from the first meeting with the clients, developing a narrative and theory of the case based on client goals and preliminary research, drafting the complaint and answer, motions strategy, crafting a discovery plan and drafting discovery, and culminating in a summary judgment brief and argument. Classroom time includes some lectures combined with discussion and workshopping the casefile, interspersed with simulations of client interviews, discovery conferences, depositions, and motions hearings. Drafting assignments (both graded and ungraded) are interspersed throughout to provide hands-on experience and feedback. The course uses a closed casefile, including the civil rights cases that are necessary to developing a theory of the case and drafting claims, and a limited amount of class time in the beginning of the course will help students synthesize that information. The emphasis in this course is on building civil litigation skills, however, and not on teaching a broad understanding of civil rights law, so students should find it both accessible and reasonably challenging regardless of their level of prior knowledge about civil rights law.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students can expect to leave the course with a portfolio of documents commonly created in the course of federal litigation, including a complaint, an answer, initial disclosures, written discovery requests, deposition notices and outlines, and a summary judgment brief with statement of undisputed material facts. However, only the final complaint/answer and the summary judgment brief (and accompanying reflective writing) are scored as part of the final grade.

Other Work
Light reading in a skills-focused text will be assigned to provide background and context. However, the learning in this class depends heavily on discussion/workshopping and engaging with classmates in simulated activities related to the casefile. In order for the simulations to be effective, students should anticipate reading the provided cases and factual information closely and reflecting on and preparing for the planned class activities. The participation portion of the grade includes both attendance in class and turning in the ungraded assignments, on which some of the simulation activities are built.

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: Federal Courts and Civil Rights Litigation are encouraged, but not required, prerequisites (by prior completion or concurrent enrollment with this course). Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class Concurrencies:
Mutually Exclusive With: Federal Litigation Practice (9200)
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Wednesday, April 26, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, April 30, 11:59 PM