Civil Advocacy Focus Area

The Civil Advocacy Focus Area provides courses both theoretical and practical in nature that are aimed at providing a knowledge base for the resolution of problems. This focus area encompasses a range of courses such as dispute resolution, conflict of laws, litigation skills, and so forth. It consists of two foundational courses, specialized substantive and skills courses, and it culminates with courses in the practice area.

The Civil Advocacy Focus Area is designed to provide students with a broad exposure to the theoretical and practical legal issues in representation. The courses are arranged to allow students to attain an understanding of the dynamics of practice. Skills components, which provide students with real experience (in a mock setting) and in the law practice clinic (with real clients), are a crucial element of this focus. Finally, the capstone courses in this focus area require students to draw together and reflect on the various courses and experiences they have had throughout law school. Ultimately, we expect students to arrive at a basic understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of civil representation that will be useful in any substantive law area.

Students Who Should Take this Focus Area

Students might elect to take this focus area for a variety of reasons. It is beneficial to anyone contemplating being a lawyer, even if he or she does not plan to litigate, since all lawyers need the skills taught in this area. These skills include interviewing, counseling, motion practice, negotiation, and knowledge of alternatives to litigation. Every aspiring lawyer should be familiar with trials because the more familiar one is, the less fearsome the threat -- "We'll take it to trial" -- becomes!

This focus area is also essential for students who hope to practice in small firms. The skills aspect of the focus prepares students for fundamental litigation in substantive areas as diverse as corporate law and family law. In addition, anyone interested in government service prosecution or public defending will benefit from the generic civil practice skills.

Foundational Courses

The foundational courses required in order to begin this focus area are satisfactory completion of the first-year courses at the law school. In addition, we recommend that Evidence and Legal Writing II (both of which are required courses for graduation) be completed early during the second year since these courses are prerequisites for the Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy course (which is a prerequisite for the third-year capstone skills courses). Although Evidence and Legal Writing II are not, strictly speaking, prerequisites for any of the third-tier courses marked on the list below with an asterisk, students will benefit from taking them early on in the sequence of courses so that they can be flexible in obtaining their choice of third-year trial practice courses.

Required Courses

Exposure to practice skills is essential in this focus area. Every student must complete Dispute Resolution, Evidence, and Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy. The Pretrial course is a prerequisite for the third-tier capstone skills courses -- the clinic courses and Comprehensive Trial Advocacy. Students must select one practice course in this area. The experience and skills gained from these trial practice courses are an essential part of the focus area.

Elective Courses

The list of electives include both theoretical and practice skills courses. Students must take at least two of the elective courses, one of which must be a theoretical course (marked with an asterisk). We have also included a list of additional related experiences that may be of interest, although they are not required for, and do not count toward, this focus area.

Civil Advocacy Faculty

Career Faculty
Bryan Adamson Predatory Lending Clinic, Civil Procedure
Margaret Chon Civil Procedure
Brooke Coleman Civil Procedure, Federal Courts
Sidney DeLong Remedies
Paul Holland Director, Trial Advocacy Program
Won Kidane International Arbitration
John Mitchell Evidence, Evidence Lab, Forensics
Julie Shapiro Civil Procedure, Constitutional Litigation
Andrew Siegel U.S. Supreme Court Practice Seminar
David Skover Federal Courts
John Weaver Remedies


Emeritus Faculty
Marilyn Berger* Civil Procedure

*Focus Area Chair

Adjunct Faculty
Ronald Clark Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy, Comprehensive Trial Advocacy
Randolph Gordon Remedies
Jeff Grant Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy
Hon. Terence Lukens Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy
David Linehan Conflict of Law
Hon. Dean Lum Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy
Judge Jack Nevin Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy, Comprehensive Trial Advocacy
Todd Nunn Complex Civil Litigation, Conflict of Law
Steven Penner Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy
Hon. Matt Williams Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy, Comprehensive Trial Advocacy

Focus Area Requirements

Plan the completion of your focus area with a focus area tracking form.

Course Descriptions

Required Courses (first three courses required, plus one course marked with an asterisk*)

  • Dispute Resolution (3 cr)
  • Evidence (4 cr)
  • Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy (4 cr)
  • * Comprehensive Trial Advocacy (4 cr)
  • * Predatory Lending Clinic (6 cr)

Elective Courses (at least two courses required, one of which must be a course marked with an asterisk*)

  • * Conflict of Laws (3 cr)
  • * Federal Courts (3 cr)
  • * Remedies (3 cr)
  • Evidence Lab (1 cr)
  • Forensics (3 cr)
  • Client Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiation (3 cr)
  • Mediation and Collaborative Law (3 cr)
  • Transnational Litigation and Arbitration (3 cr)
  • U.S. Supreme Court Practice Seminar (3 cr)

Additional Related Courses and Experiences

The following courses and experiences are not part of the focus area but are sufficiently related that students might want to do in conjunction with other required focus courses:

  • Any civil substantive law areas: Products Liability, Constitutional Litigation, Employment Law, etc.
  • Administrative Law
  • Administrative Law Clinic
  • Admiralty
  • Aviation Law
  • Federal Indian Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Moot Court competitions
  • Client counseling, negotiation, and mediation competitions