Federal Litigation Practice
Rottenborn, John B
With the decline in jury trials, the focus of civil litigation is shifting to dispositive motions and appeals. This course will provide practical, skills-based guidance in these areas for students who plan to engage in high-level litigation. It seeks to complement the law school’s robust trial advocacy curriculum by focusing on the litigation that takes place both before and after trial, and how every step in a case’s lifespan affects the ultimate outcome of the case.
The course will cover most key steps in the federal pretrial/posttrial process, including the pleading, discovery, summary judgment, and appeal phases. It will explore how decisions made throughout a case impact both pretrial dispositive briefs and appeals, and how the purpose and audience of a brief may impact how it is written. Throughout the semester, students will be assigned to brief discrete portions of dispositive motions (i.e. motion to dismiss, motion for summary judgment), other critical motions (e.g. motion to compel, motion in limine), and an appellate brief. They will receive detailed, personalized feedback on their writing. Students will also prepare and deliver at least one oral argument, and will again receive individualized feedback. Course readings will focus on functional guidance for (and often from) practicing lawyers. They will be supplemented by examples of outstanding briefs, motions, and oral arguments from some of the best lawyers and judges practicing today. From time to time throughout the semester, lawyers and judges will be invited to join the class to share their experiences and advice with the students. Grades will be based on the litigation exercises, class participation, and written work product (primarily legal briefs).
*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.