Appellate attorneys preparing for oral argument can now moot their cases before a panel of expert appellate lawyers and law professors, thanks to a new program offered by the Center for Litigation and Courts at UC Hastings Law in San Francisco.
Launched this spring, the California Appellate Advocacy Program (CAAP) pairs practicing lawyers with appellate experts and law professors with subject matter expertise as mock judges on UC Hastings campus.
“Several programs around the country focus on preparing advocates to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Dan Bromberg, a Senior Appellate Practice Fellow at the Center and Director of CAAP. “But there’s a real gap in programming to help advocates to appear before other appellate courts. The California Supreme Court, in particular, hears some of the most important issues of any state supreme court in the country, and CAAP can help prepare lawyers scheduled to argue cases before that court. At the same time, better and clearer advocacy can help appellate courts make more informed decisions.”
Bromberg has nearly three decades of appellate practice, including arguing cases successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous state and federal appellate courts around the country. He currently heads the appellate practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
The CAAP has already held five moot arguments for advocates before the California Supreme Court since the program was launched this spring.
Dennis F. Moss, Of Counsel at Moss Bollinger in Sherman Oaks, participated in a CAAP moot court session before appearing in front of the California Supreme Court. He said the moot court session left him in a better position to argue his best case before the state’s highest court.
“The program is extraordinary,” said Moss. “The obviously intense preparation by the moot court justices made for a lively and extremely useful practice session that prepared me for what was coming in the Supreme Court. They raised questions that I had previously not thought about and rigorously tested my positions on matters I had contemplated. This was my sixth appearance before the California Supreme Court, and the session was invaluable, making me the most prepared I had ever been for an argument,” he said.
Moots are typically held on the UC Hastings Law campus on McAllister Street in San Francisco, though arrangements can also be made to hold them virtually via remote technology. “Especially with the fantastic moot court room being constructed, UC Hastings Law’s gorgeous new buildings provide a perfect setting for simulating the experience of arguing before appellate courts such as the California Supreme Court,” said Bromberg. “Plus, with the consent of the advocate, we can invite interested students to attend.”
According to Bromberg, CAAP has the capacity to host as many as two dozen moots a year.
Scott Dodson, a distinguished professor of law at UC Hastings Law and the Founding Director of the Center for Litigation Courts, sees CAAP as a way to connect practitioners, courts, and academics. “The Center’s primary missions include expanding knowledge of litigation and courts, bringing that knowledge to the bench and the bar, and serving as a resource for interested members of the UC Hastings Law community.” he said. “CAAP fits perfectly within those missions.”