Course Offerings

Criminal Trial Advocacy Program (LAW-694)

Criminal Trial Advocacy courses are based on trial simulations, practical instruction, learning by doing, and feedback from faculty and fellow students.  The courses focus on case theory, trial strategy and tactics, opening statements, examination of witnesses, and closing arguments.  In these courses student-attorneys try three fictitious cases.  Students try the final case in a courtroom before a real judge and jury panel of undergraduate students.  Cases are tried under the Federal Rules of Civil or Criminal Procedure and Evidence. 

Each section has two instructors, a judge and a law professor or attorney experienced in litigation.  Special features of these classes are in-class discussions by a professional actor on the use of techniques to communicate more effectively and a homicide detective on the basics of criminal investigations. 

This three credit course is offered each Fall semester. Criminal Procedure and Evidence are requisites or co-requisites to this course. Enrollment is limited to 14 students per section.

Civil Trial Advocacy Program (LAW-695)

Criminal Trial Advocacy courses are based on trial simulations, practical instruction, learning by doing, and feedback from faculty and fellow students.  The courses focus on case theory, trial strategy and tactics, opening statements, examination of witnesses, and closing arguments.  In these courses student-attorneys try three fictitious cases.  Students try the final case in a courtroom before a real judge and jury panel of undergraduate students.  Cases are tried under the Federal Rules of Civil or Criminal Procedure and Evidence. 

Each section has two instructors, a judge and a law professor or attorney experienced in litigation.  Special features of these classes are in-class discussions by a professional actor on the use of techniques to communicate more effectively and a homicide detective on the basics of criminal investigations.

This three credit course is offered each Fall semester. Civil Procedure is a prerequisite and Evidence is a pre- or co-requisite for Civil Trial Advocacy. 

Pre-Trial Civil Litigation (LAW-649)

In Pretrial Civil Litigation students explore the pretrial process in federal civil litigation, including interviewing clients; drafting pleadings, written discovery and motions for summary judgment; taking and defending depositions; and presenting oral argument on motions for summary judgment.  Students in this course use a simulated case file as the context for developing pretrial strategies and practical skills.  Students work individually and in teams.  This is an experiential learning course that incorporates in-class simulations and self-critique as components of the learning process.

This three credit course is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. Enrollment is limited to 16 students per section.

Pretrial Civil Litigation - First Year Elective (Law 649)

Explores the pretrial process in federal civil litigation, including interviewing clients, drafting pleadings and written discovery, taking and defending depositions, and negotiating settlements. Students in this course use a simulated case file as the context for developing pretrial strategies and practical skills. This is an experiential learning course that incorporates in-class simulations and self-critique as components of the learning process.

This two credit course is offered in the Spring semester. Enrollment is limited to 16 students.

Students who take this course are not eligible for the Pretrial Civil Litigation course in the second, third or fourth years.

Ethics for Trial Lawyers (LAW 915)

This class surveys the ethical terrain for litigators in both the criminal and civil context.  The course uses case law, bar opinions, and role play exercises developed by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) to allow students to identify and resolve ethical issues through simulated exercises.  This course is a practical, exercise driven course that sensitizes students to the common conflicts that arise in litigation, informs them of the rules that govern their conduct, and allows  them to work through conflicts in a safe environment where mistakes are not costly to themselves or their clients.  Legal Ethics (LAW-550) or (LAW-551) are prerequisites. 

This two credit course is offered only in the Spring semester. Enrollment is limited to 14 students.

Scientific Evidence and Expert Testimony (Law 878)

This class is a practical course designed to enrich students’ understanding of the interaction between the Federal Rules of Evidence and science in a trial setting.  Through a series of exercises, students are exposed to expert scientific evidence in deposition and trial contexts.  In addition to these simulation exercises, the course has an instructional component which includes presentations by guest lecturers who are specialists in various scientific fields such as forensic pathology and toxicology, digital information, and trace evidence.  Evidence is a pre-requisite.

This three credit course is offered in the Spring semester. Enrollment is limited to 16 students.

Trial Advocacy: Evidentiary Foundations and Objections (LAW-968)

A practical course designed to enrich students’ understanding of the Federal Rules of Evidence and their application in a   trial setting.  Through a series of exercises, which simulate pretrial motions and witness examinations, students develop the skills to advocate for or against the admissibility of evidence at trial.  Evidence and either Criminal or Civil Trial Advocacy are pre-requisites for this course.  

This three credit course is offered each Fall, Spring & Summer semesters. Enrollment is limited to 14 students.

Advanced Trial Advocacy: Challenges and Obligations of the Prosecutor (Law 984A)

This course seeks to give students an understanding of the daily responsibilities of a prosecutor and the typical challenges that prosecutors face in practice. Topics covered in this course include ethical rules governing the conduct of prosecutors, grand jury practice, analysis required in deciding to prosecute a case, and rules governing discovery requests, as well as other prosecution related trial preparation and presentation issues. This course is a combination of theory and practice. Students read cases, statutes and articles defining the prosecutorial role and constitutionally required practices and work through in class exercises. Criminal Procedure is a prerequisite. 

This two credit course is offered in the Fall. Enrollment is limited to 14 students.

Advanced Trial Advocacy: Homicide Prosecution (LAW 984)

This course focuses on a prosecutor’s role in a gang homicide case from the discovery of the victim up to and through prosecution and sentencing of co-defendants.  Students are exposed to the day-to-day work of local prosecutors and essential skills and motions filed by prosecutors in the context of a gang homicide case.  Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and either Criminal or Civil Trial Advocacy or the Criminal Justice Clinic’s prosecution clinic are co-requisites for this course. 

This two credit course is offered in the Spring semester. Enrollment is limited to 14 students per section.

Litigating in the Digital Age: eDiscovery (LAW 994)

The ubiquitous use of computers, the Internet and Internet-related technology has dramatically changed the litigation landscape.  Information sources are growing rapidly, including social media, voicemail, instant messaging, removable media, blogs, smart phones, etc.  The courts have focused responsibility for solving the problems, and complying with the requirements of discovery (“eDiscovery”), squarely on the shoulders of litigation counsel.  This course provides a basic understanding of the legal and practical parameters of eDiscovery and electronic case management.  This skills-based course examines the legal and technological issues surrounding the use of electronically stored information during the litigation process.  Students conduct mock interviews of company CIOs and brief and argue motions involving eDiscovery issues.  Students also review and evaluate efforts made by professional groups and the courts to create reasonable parameters allowing parties to comply with their discovery obligations and ethical responsibilities while implementing a fundamental change in the adversary system from one of confrontation to one of cooperation.

This two credit course is offered in the fall and spring semesters. Enrollment is limited to 14 students.

Lawyer Bargaining (LAW 651)

The course explores the attorney’s role in the resolution of disputes through non adjudicatory processes such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration and mini-trial.  The course focuses on theories underlying each form of dispute resolution and the lawyering skills necessary to implement effectively those processes.  The lawyer’s role and required skills will be explored from the dual perspective of the attorney as advocate and as impartial dispute resolver.

This three credit course is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. Enrollment is limited to 18 students.

Trial Advocacy: Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom (LAW-913)

Students explore through lecture, demonstration, and discussion the accumulation, organization and presentation of proof in the high-tech courtroom.  The course includes an examination of evidentiary and procedural rules as they relate to visual advocacy, computer technology, and digital graphics. Students organize electronically stored information using CaseMap, take videotaped depositions, and prepare and present visual evidence using PowerPoint graphics, and Sanction trial presentation software.  The course culminates in a mock jury trial presided over by a Federal Judge.  Offered in the Spring Semester. 

This two credit course is offered in the Spring semester. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

Plea Bargaining (Law 708)

Plea Bargaining is a practical course designed to enrich students' understanding of the pre-trial criminal process of negotiating a guilty plea in a criminal case. The vast majority of criminal convictions -- more than ninety percent -- come not from a public trial verdict, but rather after a closed negotiation process ending in a guilty plea. In this course, we will examine plea bargaining and guilty plea jurisprudence, theory, and practice. We will explore the role of the prosecutor, defender, and judge in plea bargaining, including ethical considerations for these institutional actors. Other topics include the collateral consequences of guilty pleas; client intake and interview; bail and detention hearings; and negotiation theory in the criminal context. In order to fully understand the steps of a plea negotiation, the class will learn and simulate various pre-trial processes including client intake, arraignment, plea negotiations, and the actual guilty plea itself. 

This three credit course is offered in the Fall Semester. Enrollment is limited to 16 students.

The Jury in Civil Litigation (LAW-608)

The course enriches students’ understanding of the jury system and the attorney’s role as a trial advocate through study of its origins, processes, and reforms.  The course touches on methods of jury selection and issues of juror misconduct.  Reading for the course ranges from tradition texts and cases to sample jury questionnaires and motions.  The course includes a presentation by a jury consultant and in-class exercises to contextualize student learning.  Students work individually and in teams during various in-class exercises and when preparing written assignments.  Students gain an appreciation of the attorney’s role as trial advocate, and the impact that the jury system has on many facets of litigation. 

This three credit course is offered in the Fall semester. Enrollment is limited to 14 students.

Alexandria, Virginia Public Defender Supervised Externship (LAW 754); Trial Advocacy: Criminal Defense Externship Seminar (Law 795V)

The one credit Alexandria Public Defender Seminar is taken in conjunction with the three credit externship at the Alexandria Public Defender Office (APD office).  Students participate in a 20 hour weekly externship and attend a      one hour seminar at the Alexandria office site.  During the seminar, students learn the skill of developing case theories, interviewing and examining witnesses, introducing evidence, giving opening statements and closing arguments, and questioning potential jurors during voir dire.  During the externship, through the supervision of public defenders, students interview clients and witnesses, visit incarcerated clients, conduct legal research, prepare pleadings and    legal memoranda, and attend trials and hearings.  Criminal Procedure is a prerequisite or co-requisite for these courses.  Evidence is recommended.  Permission to enroll is required.  To get permission, email Professor Lippy a copy of your resume and the reasons you wish to participate to elippy@wcl.american.edu.

District of Columbia Public Defender Supervised Externship (Law 754); Trial Advocacy: Criminal Defense Externship Seminar (Law 795D)

The one credit Public Defender Services (PDS) Seminar is taken in conjunction with the three credit externship at the Washington, D.C. Public Defender Services Office.   Students participate in a 20 hour weekly externship and attend a one hour seminar at the Washington, D.C. PDS office site.  During the seminar, students learn the skill of developing case theories, interviewing and examining witnesses, introducing evidence, and giving opening statements and closing arguments.  During the externship, through the supervision of public defenders, students interview clients and witnesses, visit incarcerated clients, conduct legal research, prepare pleadings and legal memoranda, and attend trials and hearings.  Criminal Procedure is a prerequisite or co-requisite for these courses. Permission to enroll is required.  To get permission, email Professor Lippy a copy of your resume and the reasons you wish to participate to elippy@wcl.american.edu.

Fact Witness Deposition (Law 795BE)

This intensive course includes short lectures and demonstrations by faculty on how to prepare for, take, and defend fact witness depositions followed by in-class depositions by students and webcast review.  Students practice taking and defending depositions and receive immediate critique and feedback from the instructors. 

This one credit course is offered during the Litigation Skills Summer Institute. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

Expert Witness Deposition (Law 795BQ)

Students learn how to depose expert witnesses, who often prove to be the most difficult witnesses to depose.  A significant amount of time is spent on preparation of expert witnesses, questioning techniques, and deposition strategy.  Students have multiple opportunities to refine taking and defending expert witness depositions through practice and instructor critiques. 

This one credit course is offered during the Litigation Skills Summer Institute. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom (Law 795BF)

This course features instruction and demonstrations of effective ways to present evidence such as timelines, video clips, and data compilations in a digital format during direct examination and closing arguments.  Experts teach how   to use technology to make strong, effective arguments that resonate with jurors and judges.  Students will make in-class digital presentations followed by instructor critique. 

This one credit course is offered during the Litigation Skills Summer Institute. Enrollment is limited to 10 students.

Civil Trial Advocacy (Law795BP)

Civil Trial Advocacy course based on trial simulations, practical instruction, learning by doing, and feedback from faculty and fellow students.  The course focuses on case theory, trial strategy and tactics, opening statements, examination of witnesses, and closing arguments.  In this course student-attorneys try a fictitious case.  Their final will be a trial in a courtroom before a real judge and jury panel of undergraduate students.  Case is under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence.  Civil Procedure and Evidence are pre-requisites. 

This two credit course is offered during the Litigation Skills Summer Institute. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.