Appellate Advocacy

B642 is taught by S. Lahn

When an attorney gets up and prepares to address an audience whether the U.S. Supreme Court, or a jury, zoning commission, or corporate board there s usually a lot at stake, not only for the client, but often for the lawyer as well. In this Skills course we will practice how to rise to those challenges and present complex facts and ideas confidently and cogently. In pursuing that goal, we ll use tools ranging from video and audio tape of real appellate arguments; to empirical studies on the science of persuasion; to techniques of professional performance gleaned from other fields such as sports psychology and theatre.

This Skills course is designed to work in sync with and to allow you to excel in the 2020 Sherman Minton Moot Court competition, which will run this year from the first week in September through the first week in November. While our focus will be on courtroom speaking, lawyers almost always submit some type of written argument first, and so we will also spend time examining the special form, rules, and strategies of the appellate brief that you and your partner will write this fall for the Minton competition.

The changes wrought by the 2020 pandemic have dove-tailed in some ways with long-term shifts in litigation practice: in particular, courts increasing use of audio/video platforms such as Zoom to conduct appellate arguments and other proceedings. To prepare for this new world (and work within IU s reopening rules), we ll be conducting our oral arguments, as well as classes and conferences, remotely this semester.

A central feature of our course is the practice oral argument that each student presents to a panel of Advocacy Board judges before the Minton competition begins. You will then write a short self-assessment and meet with the instructor to analyze your taped performance. Other course requirements, in addition to participating in the 2020 Sherman Minton Competition, are: attending eight (asynchronous) on-line classes and completing the short accompanying written exercises. There is no final exam. Please feel free to contact Prof. Seth Lahn ( with any questions. (Pass/Fail)