Advanced Appellate Brief Writing: The appellate brief may be the most important aspect of appellate advocacy. Indeed, over 70% of the cases in the Fifth Circuit are decided on the briefs alone, without oral argument. This course will therefore examine the characteristics of persuasive brief writing. Students will learn the principles of effective written advocacy and will practice those principles by drafting several critical components of an appellate brief. Each student will receive constructive feedback regarding his or her written work, and well-executed student writing samples may be circulated among the class for discussion and instruction.

Faculty: Michelle Stratton
Prerequisites: Priority in enrollment will be given to students who have participated in moot court or trial advocacy competition involving brief writing or who have completed a skills course or externship involving appellate or trial advocacy and requiring brief or judicial opinion writing.

Building Your Business and Your Brand – Strategic Lessons for Real World Success: This course will explore the key strategies and actions to build a successful business, whether inside a law firm, on your own, or in an alternative career. Students will set goals, prepare strategic action plans, build a social media presence, engage in business development activities, and explore all the critical areas of building a business and brand. Students will be required to develop an elevator pitch, outline a basic business plan, build a basic financial model, read basic financial statements, and craft a basic business development/marketing plan.

Faculty: Samira Salman
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with Demonstrated Interest in Business Law

Lawyering and the Legislative Process: The course will provide an introduction to the role of lawyers in the public policy and legislative process. It will be geared toward federal legislation and Congress. It will include two sections, one focused on Congress and the mechanics of the legislative process. Understanding the legislative process is essential to advising clients on public policy and legislative issues. The second part of the course will use a current major policy issue to provide students the opportunity for hands on role playing on behalf of clients with different policy positions. This will involve researching the issue, preparing testimony in support of the client’s policy position and drafting concise legislation to accomplish the client’s public policy goal. Student teams will present and defend their policy position and legislative draft. Students will also have a short multiple choice exam.

Faculty: Mark D. Boudreaux
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with Demonstrated Interest in Legislative Process

Legal Opinions in Business Transactions: This course will explore legal opinions rendered in business transactions, with an emphasis on third party opinions rendered by a law firm to a non-client third party. Students will evaluate and discuss legal opinions frequently rendered in the area of commercial lending, real estate financing and private and public debt offerings. Students will learn how to draft opinions, how customary practice affects the meaning of opinion terminology, and how legal opinions present ethical and professional liability issues. Students will be required to draft, negotiate and explain various opinion provisions. Students will also be required to pass a short exam.

Faculty: Scott Willis
Prerequisites: Security Devices or a UCC Article 9 class or permission of the instructor

Managing the Personal Injury Case: This course combines substantive and procedural personal injury law with the essential steps and elements of pursuing or defending a claim for personal injury damages – from client intake and case evaluation to settlement or trial. Topics may include any or all of the following:

  • the essential elements of a personal injury case: parties, liabilities, damages, forms, documents, and witnesses;
  • obtaining police, medical, and employment records necessary for calculation and proof of liability and damages;
  • locating, retaining and preparing experts and their reports for case evaluation, assistance, and trial testimony;
  • gathering information and preparing settlement proposals and demands; and
  • preparing and presenting witnesses, exhibits, and documentation to support or defend a case at trial.

Faculty: Edward J. Walters, Jr. and Darrel Papillion
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with Demonstrated Interest in Litigation

Mergers and Acquisitions: This course analyzes the key legal and practical aspects of a private merger and acquisition transaction. We will focus on deal structuring, due diligence investigations and transaction documentation, including purchase and sale agreements, letters of intent, confidentiality agreements and other customary ancillary agreements. Students will learn how key provisions of a purchase and sale agreement are negotiated to create value for and allocate risks among the parties. Students will have the opportunity to practice drafting and negotiating skills.

Faculty: Caroline Blitzer Philips
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with Demonstrated Interest in Transactional Work

Prosecuting and Defending Federal Criminal Trials: This course will cover the significant stages of a federal criminal trial, from preliminary investigation/grand jury, indictment, bail hearings, discovery/motion practice, trial, and sentencing. Students will prepare pleadings and documents necessary for each phase of litigation prior to class and will be expected to litigate each topic learned during class. While the course will use federal substantive laws and procedural rules, emphasis will be put on the substantive and procedural points of law that are common to prosecutions across all jurisdictions, including but not limited to Brady/Giglio discovery obligations, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment requirements, ethical obligations, and the evidentiary issues most common in criminal prosecutions.

Faculty: Catherine Maraist, Honorable J. Walter Green, C. Frank Holthaus
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with Demonstrated Interest in Criminal Law

Strategic Thinking for Lawyers: The course will explore the fundamentals of strategic thinking for lawyers and apply principles of strategy to commonly-encountered legal settings. Students win participate in exercises and discussions designed to explore and illustrate strategic thinking and the strategic decision making process. Students will prepare and present plans for achieving strategic objectives based on hypothetical situations, to include criminal, civil, family/domestic and transactional matters. Students will be graded on presentations and class participation.

Faculty: Michael Walsh and Skip Philips
Prerequisites: N/A

The Care and Feeding of Expert Witnesses: This course will explore the issues surrounding the use of experts in litigation. Students will evaluate and discuss the need for experts, types of experts required, issues involving expert reports, and procedural, discovery and trial issues involving experts. Students will be required to evaluate these issues in light of various factual scenarios. Students will also be required to prepare for and participate in daily discussions regarding the various topics and will also be required to pass a short exam.

Faculty: James Roy, Brian Colomb and Andrew Quackenbos
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with Demonstrated Interest in Litigation

The Selection and Persuasion of Your Jury: This course will review the significant role of juries in the American system of justice, explore the diversity, opinions, and backgrounds of the respective jurors who make up those juries, and finally consider the varied methods of selecting and persuading those jurors in a civil trial. Students will study and discuss sample voir dire examinations and jury interrogatories, and they will observe and evaluate video presentations of voir dire examinations, closing arguments, and jury deliberations from an actual mock trial. Students will be required to draft and explain voir dire questions based upon a hypothetical civil case. For the final project, students will be required to draft a closing argument to a hypothetical jury in a hypothetical civil case provided by the instructor. Students will also be required to pass a short exam.

Faculty: Timothy F. Daniels
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with Demonstrated Interest in Litigation

Why Should the Judge Listen to Me? What Makes Judges Read and Hear What Lawyers Say: Unless your motion, brief in support, or argument catches and holds the judge’s attention, the outcome is predictable. Writing a motion or brief that a judge reads carefully and thinks about, or making an argument that a judge listens to attentively, is not sufficient to win, but it is necessary. This course focuses on the elements and skills that help get and keep the trial judge’s attention, whether the judge is an arbitrator, an administrative law judge, a state trial judge, or a federal bankruptcy, magistrate, or district judge. The focus will be on the elements and skills of effective written and oral advocacy that apply to all lawyers whose practice includes some kind of litigation, no matter what subject area or type of trial forum.

Faculty: Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal and Honorable Elizabeth E. Foote
Prerequisites: Preference to Students with a Demonstrated Interest in Litigation

Winning at Mediation: Successful Strategies for Conflict Resolution: This course will explore mediation methods and approaches, and specifically how to position a litigated matter for successful resolution at mediation, with focus on when to mediate and what to expect from mediation. This course will be helpful to anyone interested in a civil litigation practice. In virtually all state and federal courts, participation in mediation with a third party neutral is required prior to trial of civil matters, and often prior to consideration of dispositive motions. As we investigate ethical and practical considerations in choosing when and how to mediate, students will consider how to choose the perfect third party neutral for each case; be required to prepare a confidential mediation report or statement; and participate in a series of mock mediations while working in teams. There is no examination to be administered for this class, but each student will be required to participate in a mock mediation and to submit mock mediation materials. Students should expect a lecture for the first 90 minutes of each class, to be followed by mock mediation sessions and student-directed presentations in the afternoons.

Faculty: Theresa Gallion
Prerequisites: N/A