The Trial Advocacy program provides comprehensive training in the strategies and techniques required to be a successful trial lawyer. Through courses, clinical opportunities, and a strong internal and national competition program, students gain the skills to persuasively advocate for their clients.
We also have award opportunities for students who demonstrate a passion and commitment to trial advocacy.
UW Law offers a variety of courses aimed at preparing students to work in trial advocacy. Designed by seasoned attorneys, our comprehensive program equips students with the skills, strategies, and confidence needed to excel in the courtroom.
- Civil Procedure I
Fundamentals of procedure in civil litigation. The major subdivisions include jurisdiction of courts, venue, commencement of actions, pleadings, discovery and other pretrial devices, and trials.
- Civil Procedure II
Joinder of claims and parties, complex litigation including class actions, securing, and enforcing judgments, appellate procedure, and the binding effect of prior decisions: res judicata and collateral estoppel.
- Criminal Procedure: Investigation
This course emphasizes the pre-trial rights of persons suspected or accused of crime, primarily those derived from the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but may include examples based on state and federal statutes and rules. The topics covered include arrest, search and seizure, interrogation, pre-trial identification, pre-trial release and preventive detention, discovery and disclosure, guilty pleas, and double jeopardy. Other topics may include electronic surveillance and undercover investigation, counsel, preliminary proceedings, prosecution, speedy trial, trial by jury, pre-trial publicity, and the correctional process.
- Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
This course covers the formal charging, trial and appellate stages of criminal proceedings, including grand jury proceedings, prosecutorial discretion in charging, pretrial release and detention, charging and venue, joinder and severance, double jeopardy, assistance of counsel, discovery and disclosure, criminal trials, appeals and collateral postconviction remedies, and may also include entrapment and police encouragement and sentencing.
This course will examine the rules governing the admission, exclusion, and presentation of evidence in judicial proceedings. Topics to be covered in this course include relevancy; authentication; the 'Best Evidence' doctrine; categorical rules of exclusion; character and habit evidence; competency of witnesses; examination and impeachment of witnesses; opinion and expert testimony; presentation of evidence; privilege; the hearsay rule and its exceptions; presumptions and burdens of proof; and the scope of judicial notice.
- Federal Courts and the Federal System
Study of the role of the federal courts in the federal system, both in their relationships within the separation of powers in the federal government and with state governments. Covers such topics as justiciability, legislative courts, sovereign immunity, official immunities, constitutional torts, federal question jurisdiction, Supreme Court review, and habeas corpus. Background in constitutional law strongly recommended.
Forensics is an introduction to the world of expert witnesses in both criminal and civil cases, looking at the forms of scientific and technical knowledge commonly involved. This course will cover not only the standards and rules governing expert testimony, but also provide opportunities for hands on experience.
- Persuasive Writing
Students will study examples of good and bad persuasive writing and practice written advocacy in a number of assignments. The course will begin with a study of persuasion and rhetoric, then move into practicing legal argument: working with facts, framing issues, constructing legal arguments. Students will practice advocacy in the context of pre-trial motions and appeals. Prerequisite: A506 Legal Analysis, Research and Writing. Enrollment limited to 15 students.
- Pre-Trial Practice
Instruction in the theory and fundamental skills of pre-trial criminal and civil advocacy. Subjects covered include interviewing, fact investigation and analysis, case valuation/risk analysis, litigation strategy, client counseling, pleading, discovery, depositions, expert witnesses, demonstrative exhibit creation, negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, and motions practice. Professional responsibility issues are considered throughout.
- Trial Advocacy I
In Trial Advocacy I students learn how a trial works, how to develop a case theory and trial skills (voir dire, opening, direct examination, cross examination, closing, jury instructions, etc.) The course and curriculum are designed to organically build trial and storytelling skills, a command of the facts and law, and the presentation and advocacy skills to conduct end of quarter trials. The class meets once a week as a large group for a lecture. Students then meet in small sections with a team of two experienced trial attorneys to practice skills and receive feedback.
- Trial Advocacy II
Trial Advocacy II offers students more sophisticated communication strategies. The emphasis is less on presentation and courtroom mechanics and more on audience-centered persuasion. Each week, students attend a large lecture and then practice their skills during small sections taught by seasoned trial attorneys. The course culminates in a mock trial where students try State v. Hodgman, inspired by an actual shooting in UW’s Red Square on the night of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Designed and run by fulltime faculty who are experienced attorneys, our comprehensive Clinic program provides students with real-world legal experience assisting clients and communities.
- Civil Rights & Justice Clinic
Students will actively participate in all aspects of civil and criminal litigation, both in Washington State Courts and in federal courts throughout the country. For wrongfully convicted clients, as they have done with the Innocence clinic in the past, this representation shall include conducting investigations, drafting motions seeking forensic/DNA testing, seeking new trials, client counseling, and conducting oral advocacy and witness examination at hearings. In §1983 suits, students will participate in all aspects of litigation, including drafting pleadings and motions, participating in discovery, depositions, motion practice, evidentiary hearings, trials, and appeals (including, where feasible and permitted direct advocacy to courts). Students will also be given the opportunity to conduct research and investigation of policy and transparency issues that address broader reform efforts, particularly concerning police accountability, race, reconciliation, and restorative justice.
- Federal Tax Clinic
A limited number of LL.M. students may participate in the law school’s low-income taxpayer clinic, which represents individual taxpayers in their disputes (both administratively before the IRS and in Tax Court) with the IRS. This course, in which students participate over the length of the full academic year, is offered under the supervision of a clinic director who is an experienced tax and trial attorney. The course begins with an instructional component before evolving into actual representation of taxpayer clients in their disputes.
- Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic
This three-quarter clinic is open only to 3L students and will take advantage of a unique opportunity provided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Circuit Court screens pro se petitions filed by non-citizens and criminal defendants to identify meritorious (and often novel) issues, accelerates the briefing schedule to coordinate with the academic year, and permits law students to brief and present oral argument to a sitting panel of circuit judges in the spring of each year. This course requires that students develop and deploy a wide range of skills, including legal writing and analysis, communication skills, and the mechanics of filing a persuasive and compliant brief. Students also develop and master knowledge and application of the rules of civil procedure, appellate procedure, and substantive law of immigration or another area of law at issue in the appeal. Students are guided and mentored by two professors who have substantial appellate and Ninth Circuit experience.
- Tools for Social Change: Race & Justice Clinic
The Race and Justice Clinic works to disrupt the systemic over-representation of youth of color in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems through direct representation and systemic advocacy. Clinic students advocate for young people who are pushed out of school, given extreme sentences, and stigmatized by juvenile criminal history records. The Race and Justice Clinic strives to center the voices and stories of youth and their communities to seek innovative solutions. Clinic students have had the opportunity to represent youth before the Clemency and Pardons Board, in first appearance hearings, records sealing motions, motions to modify legal financial obligations, school discipline hearings, and early release hearings before the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.
- Tribal Court Clinic
As part of the Native American Law Center at UW School of Law, the Tribal Court Clinic partners with the Tulalip Tribes to serve as the primary public defender in criminal cases filed in their Tribal Court. The Tulalip Tribes sought this innovative partnership to address the need for legal representation in 2002 and in the decades since then, the Tribal Court Clinic has become a national model for providing tribal public defender services. The clinic's clients are generally members of federally recognized Tribes who have been charged with crimes by the Tulalip Tribes or parents and/or juveniles with youth in need of care proceedings in the Muckleshoot Tribal Court. While the classes meet collaboratively, students choose to follow either the criminal track at Tulalip or the youth in need of care track at Muckleshoot. The shared classroom setting provides a comparative perspective within a Tribal framework. All students work under the direct supervision of clinic faculty.
The Moot Court Honor Board (MCHB) provides students with a variety of advocacy skills through brief-writing and competition opportunities.
In-house competitions are available to all students and give them the opportunity to participate and learn from mock trial, contract negotiation, and appellate advocacy competitions.
National and international competition teams are selected through a competitive application process and give students the opportunity to compete against teams from around the world on a focused area of the law.
Details on the Moot Court Honor Board web page
Trial Advocacy Award Opportunities
Thanks to generous donors, students have unique opportunities to highlight their advocacy skills and earn award money at the same time.
Miracle Opening Statement Competition
An annual prize for the best opening statement made by a student.
Coughenour Mock Trial Competition
An annual award for the Best Oral Advocate. Qualification for this award is based on participation in the Hugh Miracle Award. The top four vote getters from that award will be eligible to participate in the mock trial competition hosted by Judge Coughenour.
Judge McMillan played a vital role in ending the era of Jim Crow laws & practices and held a deep and abiding commitment to the principal of equal justice for all. Applicants will submit a paper stating their interest in trial work, activities related to trial work to date, and the importance of and changes needed to provide equity in our justice system.
The John D. MacGillivray Memorial Scholarship is awarded to third year students who demonstrate excellence, leadership, commitment and impact in their coursework and activities related to trial advocacy.
The Judge William L. Dwyer Jury Project competition asks students to submit an essay related to the American jury system and show, among other things, their commitment to individual rights, appreciation for challenging cases, concern for access to legal services, and enthusiasm for the right to a trial by jury.
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