Federal Pretrial Litigation

Section 1, Fall 15

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 23/22
Credits: 3

Course Description

Fewer and fewer civil cases make it to trial today. As a result, the pretrial litigation process is more important than ever. This course seeks to complement the law school’s robust trial advocacy curriculum by focusing on the litigation that takes place before trial, and how every step in a case’s lifespan affects the ultimate outcome of the case. Students will focus on developing their advocacy skills in the pretrial motion process and gaining a practical understanding of the increasingly important role of discovery in civil cases. Part of the course will be spent on mock exercises (e.g., arguing motions and conducting depositions) in which some students will participate while the rest of the class, and guest practitioners, will serve as either judges or witnesses and provide constructive feedback. Students will use a mock case – based on actual litigation – as a common thread throughout the semester.

The rest of the class sessions will be seminar-style discussions of the pretrial litigation phases, including recent developments pertaining to each and discussions with leading practitioners – both attorneys and judges – about effective ways to address each step in the pretrial process. Each session will focus on a different pretrial step. Topics will include the complaint (fact investigation, drafting strategies, ethical issues); motion to dismiss (drafting strategies, impact of recently-altered federal pleading standards; decision to file/not file); discovery (written discovery, e-discovery, deposition discovery, expert discovery); and summary judgment (cost/benefit of filing; impact of earlier case decisions and discovery on chances of success). Grades will be based on the litigation exercises, class participation, and written work product (primarily legal briefs).

Course Requirements

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

Final Type (if any):

Written Work Product
Written Work Product:

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With:
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

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

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the 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.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens:
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: