A Salvadoran man will be able to stay in the United States thanks to his two student-lawyers (now alumni), their mentors at Georgetown Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic and a precedent-setting decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Appellate Litigation Clinic
The Appellate Litigation Program has been one of the core clinical programs at the Law Center for over forty years. The program is directed by Professor Erica Hashimoto, an alumnus of the clinic. This clinic provides intense training in the art of oral and written advocacy as it is practiced in some of the highest courts in the nation. We accept cases by court appointment that provide rich learning opportunities for our students, so the subject matter ranges widely. Most years, we have immigration, habeas, and Administrative Procedure Act cases, but each year the cases span a wide variety of subjects. Our students draft and edit the briefs and in many cases also do the circuit oral arguments.
The clinic strives to provide representation comparable to that provided by the best appellate firms in the country. Our students’ lack of experience is offset by their enthusiasm and willingness to put time into research, writing, and preparation that would be impossible elsewhere. We provide intensive brief editing and oral argument preparation experiences that not only ensure terrific products (briefs and oral arguments), but also teach students the art of litigating well and professionally.
In the two year period between Fall 2016 and Spring 2018, a total of nine students argued before federal circuit courts of appeal. The clinic won over half of the student-argued cases. The clinic also has had four cases reach the United States Supreme Court on grants of writs of certiorari. Over twenty students working on those cases had the opportunity to participate in litigation before the highest court in the United States before they were even admitted to the bar.
The clinic caseload includes cases in the Supreme Court, several federal courts of appeals, and in the Board of Immigration Appeals. As discussed above, we aim to provide the highest quality legal work. We also work to ensure both that our clients understand and approve of our work and that students develop those client relationships. As a result, students joining the Program will be required to put in substantial work, including preparing for oral argument, writing briefs, and attending the two-hour weekly seminar. Evening division students who can attend the scheduled Wednesday afternoon seminar, attend at least two Supreme Court Institute moot courts (which are generally held in the afternoon), and undertake the commitment needed to work on live-client cases that will require some work during the normal work day are encouraged to apply.
Just before graduation, Claire Cahill (L’19), Aaron Steeg (L’19) and Dominick Schumacher (L’19) had an extra reason to celebrate. The client they were representing in Professor Erica Hashimoto’s Appellate Litigation Clinic — an inmate who had been serving a life sentence since 1988 — was granted parole on April 30.
Recounting the work of the Appellate Litigation Clinic when the students argued four cases in three weeks, in three different federal appeals courts, followed by a fifth argument a month later.