On a recent Saturday morning, 80 first-year Boalt students donned their courthouse duds and polished their oratory skills for a visit to the gilded marble halls of the James R. Browning United States Courthouse in San Francisco—headquarters of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Aspiring attorneys engaged in mock oral arguments on April 14 as part of Boalt’s First Year Legal Skills Program. The event was the culmination of the written and oral advocacy portion of the curriculum for first-year students. Attorneys from the community volunteered to play the role of judge for the students’ big day in court.
“Over the course of the second semester, each first-year student drafts a brief in response to an assigned real-life case,” says Emily Proskine ’07, a third-year teaching assistant.
Participating judges then review the briefs in advance of the arguments so they can tailor their own mock questions. The aim of the whole exercise is for each student-attorney to prepare for 15 minutes of back-and-forth conversation with the judge.
Five rooms at the courthouse were made available for this special weekend program, including historic Courtroom One, where the Tokyo Rose trial and the Japanese internment hearings took place.
Upon completing her argument, first-year student Sandhya Ramadas said, “Giving my argument in a real federal courtroom in front of a judge made me even more excited about my decision to pursue a career in litigation.”
Thanks to Emily Proskine and Sarah Hoskinson ’07 for contributing this report.