A Day in Federal Court
Graduating student Dana Wallace '16 wrapped up her career at the University of Virginia School of Law on Thursday by arguing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The day capped a year in which all 12 students in the Appellate Litigation Clinic argued before a federal appeals court.
"It helped put everything we learned in law school together," said Wallace, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago.
Led by Professor Stephen Braga, the yearlong clinic allows third-year students to engage in the hands-on practice of appellate litigation through actual cases before federal circuit courts of appeals. Essentially acting as a small law firm, the students work in teams to help each other prepare cases, with one student having primary responsibility for each case.
For Thursday's argument, the team also included clinic students Jude Halawi and Andrew Selman, who wrote the briefs. Halawi served as Wallace's "second chair," ready to make the argument himself if needed as backup.
The case, Keith Clark v. Larry Cartledge, involved a procedural issue that the clinic said would help their client, Clark, have an opportunity to appeal his sexual assault conviction.
"If you want to do litigation, take the Appellate Litigation Clinic," Wallace said, adding that it also improves students' brief-writing skills. The clinic offered "a level of independence there that really helps you become better," she said. "And it's real courtroom experience."
Arguing Before the 4th Circuit
Wallace prepared for her argument through five mootings, with classmates serving as judges and jury, and offering feedback after each session.
Wallace said her classmates ask questions that are so difficult 'you feel prepared for anything when you are done.'
Jude Halawi worked on the brief and served as second chair in court.
Before joining the law school, Appellate Litigation Clinic Director Stephen Braga played a key role in negotiating the release of the 'West Memphis Three.' He is an expert in white-collar criminal defense.
Halawi argued the government's side in mootings.
Wallace served as 'second chair' earlier in the year when the clinic argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
After the mooting, Wallace and Halawi discuss what's next.