Practitioner Moot Program

Appellate moot court programs have become a new and sophisticated way for law schools to contribute to the development of the law.  In 1999, for example, Georgetown Law Center founded its Supreme Court Institute’s Moot Court Program, and quickly became the go-to destination for advocates with business before the Court.  Attorneys with a pending case head to Georgetown one or two weeks before the date of argument, and have their cases thoroughly mooted by faculty experts and experienced Supreme Court litigators in the area.  The moots represent a significant resource for practitioners, a unique pedagogical opportunity for students, and a meaningful option for an institution of educational excellence to help refine discussion and argument around some of the most contentious legal issues.

Loyola Law School’s appellate moot program replicates this success beyond the U.S. Supreme Court. It represents a novel resource for practitioners in the federal and state courts of appeal to hone their presentations for upcoming arguments.

The “Loyola moot” builds on one of Loyola’s competitive advantages.  Loyola Law School’s faculty boasts twelve former Ninth Circuit clerks — more than any other law school in the Ninth Circuit.  Indeed, Loyola has a larger percentage of doctrinal faculty members with appellate clerkship experience, state and federal, than any other area school (and ranks fourth in California, behind only UC-Berkeley, Stanford, and UC-Davis).

Loyola also has an extensive array of faculty members with appellate practice experience, in the California courts, in the Ninth Circuit, and beyond.  Loyola’s Advocacy Institute houses, among other assets, a successful Appellate Advocacy course, and repeat champion student appellate moot court teams.  And Loyola has longstanding close relationships with consistent appellate practitioners, including the ACLU, the Office of the Federal Public Defender, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Loyola moot offers practitioners the benefit of this expertise and these relationships.  In 2013, Loyola hosted moots for cases argued in the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, with grateful litigants expressing appreciation for the additional forum to test their arguments.  The model has proven to be a success.

Any interested practitioner may request a Loyola moot (just email Prof. Justin Levitt with the request).  If the case is accepted, a coordinator from LLS will recruit Loyola faculty members (and, where appropriate, subject-matter experts from the community) to appear on an appellate moot panel.  With the practitioner’s permission, students will collect the briefs, provide bench memoranda, and observe the oral argument.  Argument sessions can be scheduled to suit the practitioners’ preferences.  In most circumstances, it will also be possible to offer a recording of the argument sessions, if the practitioners wish.

Loyola moots will be offered to only one set of litigants in a pending case, to prevent any conflict or appearance of conflict, and all work related to the moot session (including the argument session itself) will be held strictly confidential.  While the enterprise has unquestionable pedagogical value for the students, the program will only succeed if it is primarily useful to the attorneys who participate, and the structure is designed with that emphasis very much in mind.

The Loyola moot represents a substantial resource for the community of appellate attorneys, and another of Loyola’s efforts to engage faculty and educate students on the real work of the law.