Ninth Circuit Appellate Clinic

Ninth Circuit Clinic Makes Federal Case out of Appellate Advocacy

Pictured from left: Students Kayla Liatti, Adjunct Professor Erica Reilley and student Claudia Menjivar traveled to Seattle for oral arguments before a panel of Ninth Circuit judges at the end of the spring 2013 semester.

Students in Loyola’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic handle client appeals from beginning to end, representing clients as pro bono counsel before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit  in both criminal and civil cases. During the yearlong class, students draft and file briefs, then argue the case before a panel of federal judges.

Alumna Erica Reilley ’00, a partner at Jones Day, oversees the clinic students. “Class is held at the firm in my office,” she said. “We meet regularly to discuss research, outlining issues and prepping drafts of a brief.” The students file an opening brief in December, a reply brief in February, then argue the case in April.

The process exposes students to the rigors of appellate advocacy as they hone their writing so it is fit to file.  “We usually go through a couple rounds of the drafting. As we get closer to a more near-final product, I have students get together to combine their work into one final brief,” Reilley said.  “The students really value having these other people to get feedback from.”

In the 2012-2013 academic year, the students handled the case of a defendant challenging the terms of his sentence under a persistent felony offender statute. Before making oral arguments before a Ninth Circuit panel in Seattle, students watched oral arguments in the circuit’s Pasadena courthouse and practiced before Reilley’s Jones Day partners, who offered their feedback.

"Arguing before the Ninth Circuit was an exciting experience and the proudest moment of my career to date," said Claudia Menjivar '13, who participated as a student and now works as a Loyola Law School Public Interest Post-Graduate Fellow at the Western Center on Law and Poverty. "While it was intimidating to answer the questions of some of the most knowledgeable judges in the country, I can now advocate on my client's behalf with more confidence than I had before this clinic."

This academic year, students are working on the case of a defendant challenging a Federal Trade Commission action for alleged conduct in negative-option marketing.