About the Program
The Master of Laws, LL.M. in Advocacy (Advocacy LL.M. Program), at American University Washington College of Law (WCL) provides opportunities for law graduates to enhance their legal advocacy skills in and out of the courtroom. The Advocacy LL.M. Program combines a rigorous academic component and a breadth of practical litigation training, including optional credits from writing projects, teaching opportunities, and practical exposure through externships.
LL.M. students will improve their technical trial skills, learn new litigation strategies and tools, strengthen persuasive abilities, and focus on the application of professional ethics in the pretrial and trial settings. Important focuses of WCL's Advocacy LL.M. Program are the use of modern technology in 21st century litigation and the training of ethical trial lawyers.
The Advocacy LL.M. Program benefits from the many opportunities afforded by the law school's location in Washington, D.C. Many full-time faculty members have extensive professional backgrounds in private practice, government litigation and non-profit advocacy, which they bring to bear in the classroom. Further, students in the Advocacy LL.M. Program benefit from more than thirty distinguished practicing judges and attorneys from the Washington, D.C. area who serve as adjunct faculty for the Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program courses. Many of these judges and practitioners have been honored for their excellence in the courtroom and contributions to the larger legal community.
The Advocacy LL.M Program was created to take into account the real-life needs of students. It is a 24-credit degree program that students can choose to pursue full-time (and complete in one year) or part-time (and complete at their own pace, usually in two years). There are no concentrations or tracks in the Advocacy LL.M. Program so that the students can tailor the experience to fit their individualized goals. Required courses and most elective courses are offered in the evenings to accommodate students' work schedules. LL.M. degree requirements include two advanced courses: (1) Advanced Trial Advocacy and (2) Ethics for Trial Lawyers. Additionally, LL.M. students may select from among the following core courses regularly offered by the Trial Advocacy Program:
- Civil Trial Advocacy
- Criminal Trial Advocacy
- Evidentiary Foundations & Objections
- Litigating in the High-Tech Courtroom
- Litigating in the Digital Age: Electronic Discovery
- Pretrial Civil Litigation
- Advanced Trial Advocacy: Criminal
- Criminal Defense Externship Seminar
Each of the core Trial Advocacy Program courses is team-taught by two instructors, a practicing or recently retired judge and either a full-time faculty member with litigation experience or an experienced litigator. Most courses are taught in small-sections with a maximum class size of 8-14 students. Multiple sections of some of these courses are regularly offered. See a full list of offerings on the "Courses" page in the "Curriculum" section.
Who Should Consider the Advocacy LL.M. Program
- Recent law graduates who seek to develop their skills, experience and credentials in order to maximize their opportunities upon entering the legal profession.
- Associates working in the litigation sections of law firms who want more opportunity to develop or improve their litigation skills.
- Lawyers in practice for an extended period who desire to re-immerse themselves in an academic program to sharpen their knowledge of established specialties, broaden their expertise, or re-tool and re-direct their careers.
- Lawyers preparing for an academic career or to satisfy other professional and personal goals.
There are ample classes to help new and experienced attorneys excel in increasingly high-tech courtrooms. An extensive renovation of the Stephen S. Weinstein Courtroom was completed in September, 2008, as a result of a recent, generous gift of Stephen S. Weinstein '65 for the benefit of WCL's Trial Advocacy Program. The fully integrated facility features state-of-the-art courtroom technology with a new jury deliberation room that provides a unique opportunity for students to develop skills suited for litigation in the digital age.
The breadth of courses offered assists students in preparation for all aspects of litigation. Since there are no specified concentrations or tracks in the Advocacy LL.M. Program, students can select courses to suit their individualized interests. It is the flexibility of the Advocacy LL.M. that makes the program attractive to a broad range of potential students.
Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program
The Advocacy LL.M. Program is part of the American University, Washington College of Law's Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program, which provides experiential learning opportunities for students to gain proficiency in trial litigation skills. Skills are honed in a "controlled clinic" environment using a hands-on teaching style and cutting-edge technology. The Program focuses on learning-by-doing, with practical instruction, demonstrations, feedback, and critique used to direct student learning. For more information about the program please view our brochure.
The Program offers approximately 27 sections of a variety of courses to more than 275 students each year. Each course includes specialized skills training, development of case theory and themes, analysis of strategies, and discussions of professional ethics.
The Program is entering a new chapter thanks to the generosity of Stephen S. Weinstein, WCL class of 1965, a distinguished litigator and past participant in the Program. In celebration of his recent gift to WCL, the Trial Advocacy Program has been named the Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program. His contribution will enable the Program to create additional scholarship in trial advocacy; enhance the WCL courtroom facilities; and provide opportunities, through conferences and lectures, to explore current issues relating to the theory and practice of trial advocacy.