The Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic has filled its graduate fellowship positions beginning in the summer of 2023. We will be hiring additional fellows in the Fall of 2024 to start in the summer of 2025. Please see the now filled fellowship announcement below to get a general idea of what we will be looking for in the future.
Georgetown Law’s full-time Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic is seeking applicants with significant appellate litigation experience for a two-year fellow/appellate litigator position to start in July or August 2023. Working with the Clinic director, the fellow will litigate and mentor students on complex public-interest appeals in federal courts of appeals nationwide and in the U.S. Supreme Court. The fellow’s responsibilities include arguing federal appeals.
What is the Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic?
Under the supervision of the Clinic director Brian Wolfman, deputy director Maddie Meth, and fellow Esthena Barlow, Georgetown Law students represent parties to appeals. The Clinic occasionally represents amici as well. The Clinic’s appeals involve a wide range of federal statutory and constitutional law. On the civil side, we handle all manner of appeals, including civil-rights, employment, consumer, environmental, tort, and education-law cases. We also handle immigration, criminal, and habeas appeals. To date, about three-quarters of our work has been in federal courts of appeals and about one-quarter in the Supreme Court.
Students take a lead role in researching and writing complex appellate briefs in an intensive, collaborative learning environment. Teams of two to three students work directly with one of the fellows and Prof. Wolfman through multiple drafts of outlines and briefs. On each project, the student-to-instructor ratio will be no greater than three to one. Every aspect of appellate advocacy—argument choice, argument ordering, research methods, use of authority, writing style and tone, and word choice, to name a few—is discussed and debated within the team and with the instructors. The fellow must be committed to working with students so that they can jointly produce the finest product. No document is filed with a court unless it meets the highest standards.
Over the semester, each student—again, working in a team—generally will be principally responsible for at least two significant litigation projects (for instance, an opening appellate brief and a petition seeking discretionary appellate review in the Supreme Court or another appellate court). In addition to completing the work with “their” teams, each student will be required to study and critique drafts produced by other teams in clinic-wide collaborative reviews. These reviews bring fresh, critical eyes to each project and help create a mission oriented, collaborative law-office atmosphere.
The Clinic also conducts weekly case “rounds” and classes. We might hold a traditional class on a legal doctrine arising in our cases, discuss progress in pending litigation or potential new cases, or visit with special guests, such as appellate litigators and judges.
The Clinic is a comprehensive educational experience. Students enroll in the Clinic full-time for one semester. In addition to the Clinic itself, students take a mandatory two-credit, separately assessed appellate courts seminar covering the substantive law of the appellate courts, brief writing, and other aspects of appellate practice. Students may not enroll in any other courses.
What Clinic fellows do?
Fellows are responsible for day-to-day mentoring of students and work closely with students on improving their lawyering skills. Each fellow is principally responsible for about a third of the docket and will supervise students in all facets of each appeal. Fellows are expected to argue cases before federal courts of appeals. With experience, a fellow may also help teach classes on appellate law and practice and play a key role in case development and in planning other Clinic activities.
Clinic fellows are integral to the success of Georgetown Law’s clinical education program. Georgetown provides significant support and guidance for fellows interested in pursuing academic scholarship and careers. In the first year of their fellowship, fellows participate in a clinical pedagogy seminar and other activities designed to support an interest in clinical teaching and legal education. As part of the Georgetown Law community, fellows are encouraged to attend seminars, workshops, and programs both on and off campus. Successful completion of the fellowship results in the award of an L.L.M. in Advocacy from Georgetown University. Over 100 former Georgetown Law clinical fellows are currently full-time legal academics, both as law-school clinicians and doctrinal faculty. Every year, fellows graduate our fellowship program and become law teachers. Other former fellows are prominent members of the public-interest bar.
The Clinic’s appellate litigation
The Clinic litigates complex public-interest appeals nationwide. We’ve handled a wide range of matters in the Supreme Court, and though we’ve been around for only five years, we’ve already handled appeals in eleven of the federal circuits (and a couple state appellate courts too). Our clients run the gamut—from employees seeking remedies for discrimination to people harmed by vehicle defects to a national organization championing retirees’ pension rights to a criminal defendant maintaining (rightly, as it turned out) that his sentence was unlawful. And, as already noted, we’ve been tackling a wide range of legal issues: from the breadth of protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act, to the constitutional rights of prisoners held in solitary confinement, to the standards for avoiding deportation under the Convention Against Torture, to workers’ rights to minimum wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, to wage theft claims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, to the rights of children under the federal special-education law, to the reasonable accommodation requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, to name just a few.
Applicants should review the Clinic’s briefs on our website.
The Clinic director
Fellows work closely with the Clinic’s faculty director, Brian Wolfman. He joined Georgetown Law’s permanent faculty in fall 2016 to design and direct the Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic. He came to Georgetown from Stanford Law School, where he was a Professor of the Practice of Law and co-Director of the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. After clerking for a federal appellate judge, he worked as a poverty lawyer in rural Arkansas. He then did trial and appellate litigation for nearly 20 years at Public Citizen Litigation Group, a national public-interest law firm, serving the last five years as the Group’s director. From 2009 to 2014, he was at Georgetown, directing the school’s Civil Rights clinic. In addition to extensive trial-court experience, Prof. Wolfman has litigated hundreds of cases in the Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals. For more information, go here.
What qualifications are we looking for?
We prefer to hire someone with significant experience as a practicing appellate lawyer. Applicants must demonstrate
• commitment to public-interest law
• excellent analytical, writing, and communication skills
• interest in clinical legal education
• experience or at least a strong interest in appellate litigation
Fellows must be members of the District of Columbia Bar or take immediate steps to apply for membership (through reciprocity or examination) after taking the position.
Pay and other benefits
The annual salary is at least $70,000 for the first year of the fellowship and at least $75,000 for the second year. The fellow also receives health and dental benefits and all tuition and fees in Georgetown Law’s L.L.M. program. Fellows also have unlimited free access to a state-of-the-art, on-site fitness center. As full-time students, fellows qualify for deferment of their student loans. Fellows may be eligible for loan repayment assistance from their law schools.
How to apply
Applicants should submit
• a brief statement (in a cover letter or otherwise) explaining the applicant’s interest in the position
• a résumé
• a law-school transcript
• a list of references, including contact information
• a recent legal writing sample of any length representing the applicant’s most challenging legal work. Please do not send an excerpt. The writing sample should not be a collaborative work or significantly edited by someone else.
The application materials should be sent in a single PDF file attached to an email sent to Niko Perazich at email@example.com. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and the position will remain open until filled. We will select candidates for an interview. Although we do not pay candidates’ travel expenses, we will try to arrange interviews at a time convenient for the candidate. Interviews may be conducted via Zoom, depending on the state of the pandemic and the candidate’s preference.