"Arguing a case before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was a capstone experience to my law school education. Some of my friends who are now practicing attorneys are floored that a student would have this kind of opportunity. That's an experience lawyers may have to wait many years to do once they are out in practice, and the fact that I was able to do this as a student was very special. Seeing the whole appeal process from beginning to end, knowing that you are going to have to stare up at the Seventh Circuit panel and be on your game, made me more invested in what I was learning. Participating in this clinic also gave me the chance to provide an important public service - to represent individuals who believe they have an argument to make before the court, and who might not otherwise be able to afford appropriate representation."
-- Nick Gamse
"Most students who are attracted to our Center are eager to cultivate their writing and advocacy skills," says Center Director Sarah Schrup. And they do. In both clinics, students advance legal writing skills, research, and analytical skills, and receive in-depth, hands-on experience in appellate advocacy, while also providing a valuable public service to clients. Students may take both clinical offerings during their time at Northwestern Law, and may also pursue an academic concentration in appellate law by choosing a focused array of courses and senior research. Schrup continues, "Alums from our Center have experiences here they may not receive anywhere else. They tell me that because of their work here, they have become confident writers; that they feel comfortable taking an appeal from start to finish; and feel grateful for the opportunity to meet extraordinary guest speakers."
Federal Appellate Clinic
In the Federal Appellate Clinic, students under the supervision of Sarah Schrup represent criminal defendants on appeal in the Seventh Circuit. Students are responsible for all aspects of the appeal, from researching and selecting the issues to drafting the brief to preparing and participating in an oral argument before the Seventh Circuit.
The seminar component of the clinic, which is highly collaborative, focuses on developing students' persuasive writing and research skills in the context of their Seventh Circuit cases. Students take responsibility for three-year curriculum so they can specialize in appellate law, argue in the Seventh Circuit, and work on Supreme Court cases. Guest lecturers have included Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, and many other distinguished practitioners.
Through a partnership with Sidley Austin LLP, students have the opportunity to work on cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Sidley partners Carter Phillips and Jeffrey Green, along with Northwestern faculty member Sarah Schrup serve as the clinic's directors and, under the supervision of associates from Sidley's pro bono Supreme Court practice, students help advocate before the Court on behalf of indigent criminal defendants.
Students are involved in strategic decision making and research on case selection. They help prepare for certiorari and moot courts, draft briefs, and conduct research on a variety of important and controversial issues of law. In the classroom component of the program, students receive instruction on Supreme Court procedure, writing, advocacy, effective presentation of issues to the Court, and oral presentation. Several sitting justices in the United States Supreme Court have guest lectured in the clinic, and the clinic sponsors several additional notable guest speakers, such as the Solicitor General of the United States, well-known Supreme Court legal correspondents, and the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Finally, students are given the opportunity to attend oral arguments in Washington, D.C. twice per year.
Academic Appellate Law Concentration
Northwestern Law is the first law school to offer a federal appellate clinic, a Supreme Court clinic, and an appellate concentration together for comprehensive training in the theory and practice of appellate law. This concentration is designed for students interested in pursuing careers as appellate lawyers or for those who would like focus more heavily on their legal research and brief-writing skills during law school. The program consists of a series of required and elective courses as well as several recommended extracurricular activities. Sample Appellate Concentration.