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First-Year Students Finish Advocacy Training with Mock Oral Arguments

Students and alumna Marisa Gonzalez at the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Marisa Gonzalez, Joel Coito, David Rosen, Joyce Kwok

Over the course of a week, 283 first-year students recently participated in mock oral arguments to culminate their written and oral advocacy semester of Berkeley Law’s First Year Skills Program. For the sixth consecutive year, many did so at the majestic James R. Browning Courthouse in San Francisco, headquarters of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Leading up to their argument, each student represented a plaintiff or defendant and wrote or responded to a motion for summary judgment. The issue, based on a real Arizona federal court case that ultimately settled, dealt with whether an English-only policy imposed on Navajo-speaking employees in an Arizona restaurant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

Berkeley Law alumni, faculty, and area lawyers acted as judges. To prepare for their role, they reviewed a bench memo and the students’ briefs. Then, at their appointed time on the week-long docket, they engaged each student in a lively 12-minute oral argument.

“Very few attorneys ever get the opportunity to argue in the Ninth Circuit,” said Hazhir Kargaran ’13, who called appearing there “a remarkably enriching and unique experience” and “by far the most memorable 12 minutes of my first year as a law student.”

Alumni and faculty who served as judges included Jeff Brax ’01, Professor from Practice Wayne Brazil ’75, Nate Cooper ’98, Allyson Franco ’10, Steven Friedlander ’90, Tomomi Glover ’06, Anne Hawkins ’00, Patrick Hein ’07, Jayni Hein ’08, Melanie Henry ’04, Danielle Hinton ’10, Academic Support Programs Director Kristen Holmquist, Andrew Jacobson ’90, Colin Kelley ’06, Jonathan Laba ’96, Cort Lannin ’09, Shawn Lichaa ’07, Brynly Llyr ’04, Sarah London ’09, Marisa Gonzalez ’05, Reid Mullen ’08, Steven Sassaman ’08, Ethan Schulman ’83, Rishi Sharma ’05, Assistant Professor Fred Smith, Lisa Stockholm ’09, Fiel Tigno ’92, Legal Research and Writing Instructor Robyn Wang, Martin White ’07, and Danny Zlatnik ’08.