Law students jumpstart legal experience by filing amicus briefs


Following an exhilarating handful of months of hastened preparation and crafting rock-stable arguments, Indianapolis lawyer Libby Whitaker and her then-classmates sat prior to the Indiana Supreme Courtroom with bated breath.

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney College of Law learners, participating in the legislation school’s Civil Observe Clinic, had drafted from begin to finish an amicus quick in an expungement case appearing in advance of the state’s greatest courtroom in February 2020.

“It was the most remarkable expertise of my regulation college career,” Whitaker mentioned in retrospect, who is now an attorney with Kids’ Voice of Indiana. “It was impressive.”

Submitting amicus briefs is a developing development amid regulation faculty choices nationwide, in accordance to regulation professors, and two Indiana legislation schools have picked up velocity on the opportunity in recent years. Obtaining the opportunity to dive into active lawful issues by appearing as amicus curiae has been a hands-on option many Hoosier legislation college students say has assisted get ready them for the day by day grind of training regulation even though having real-globe experience with actual clients.

Choosing the mind

Carrie Hagan

The IU McKinney Civil Observe Clinic has been close to for decades, but it was not right up until a number of several years in the past that legislation professor and clinic director Carrie Hagan started out thinking about the concept of acquiring her learners collaborate on amicus filings.

As part of its function all through the academic calendar year, Hagan reported the clinic routinely checks for submitted expungement appeals. If a case provides an issue that the pupils imagine merits focus, the class collaborates to purpose by way of the difficulty, make your mind up what arguments have to have to be designed and what tangible big difference their do the job could in the end have.

Due to the fact 2019, Hagan stated the clinic and its pupils have been permitted to show up as amicus 4 periods in the Court of Appeals of Indiana, as perfectly as the Indiana Supreme Court. Her pupils produce 100% of the briefs they file, she explained.

Related work is remaining finished at the Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic, wherever college students are trained and presented palms-on experience to represent purchasers in countrywide and community religious liberty scenarios.

John Meiser, the Notre Dame clinic’s supervising legal professional, stated that his college students have submitted 10 amicus briefs for the duration of the 1st whole calendar 12 months of the clinic, like five in advance of the Supreme Courtroom of the United States and in 5 other instances throughout the state.

“Because the greatest way to find out how to write for a court docket is to basically do it, the extra briefs our students are ready to do the job on, the much better their coaching and development will be,” Meiser reported.

The approach for the Notre Dame clinic’s amicus submitting commences by collecting two to four students to internally examine a distinct case, locating what their passions in the scenario may well be and what worth they could add by showing up as amici.

Regulation students collaborating in the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law’s Civil Observe Clinic, led by law professor and clinic director Carrie Hagan, appeared as amici in an expungement situation in advance of the Indiana Supreme Court docket in 2020. (Photo courtesy of Dave Jaynes)

“The college students truly variety of acquire the guide in strategizing and outlining what we want to argue,” Meiser stated. “And then ultimately we’ll get to drafting and do all the exploration and place together a draft of the quick and it’ll go by various revisions.”

When Hagan’s clinic sits down together to go over appearing in a circumstance, they inquire inquiries this sort of as: What is it that the party has explained about why they are captivating? Do we agree with what they are expressing? Do we really feel like we have anything that we can insert on top rated of what they’re currently stating? And does what we want to add truly advantage this scenario for the court?

“If we can solution those concerns with type of a resounding ‘yes,’ then we shift to the third move,” Hagan reported. “We figure out what we want to say and how we want to say it.”

Katelyn Juerling

Katelyn Juerling, a 2016 graduate of IU McKinney with Norris Choplin Schroeder LLP, signed on with the Civil Exercise Clinic as co-counsel in its most current amicus brief for Deon Willford v. Condition of Indiana, 21A-XP-02426.

Possessing participated in the clinic herself as a scholar, Juerling helped the existing college students clarify and edit their factors. The group would comb as a result of the briefs for several hours, line by line, tying up any free strings.

Watching the learners get the job done on their amicus filing was inspiring, she stated.

“Not every single lawyer gets to do any style of motion that goes in entrance of the Courtroom of Appeals, enable alone have an amicus quick that is acknowledged by the Court of Appeals,” Juerling pointed out. “So, these college students that are in this clinic are presently miles forward of some lawyers in our state that have did not have the option to do that nevertheless.”

Geared up for success

The prep for an amicus quick is rigorous function that usually should be completed ahead of the deadlines in a specific scenario, Hagan explained.

Olivia Rogers

Olivia Rogers, a climbing 3L at Notre Dame Law University, reported no one particular brief is the similar and can choose anyplace from a couple of months to just a 7 days, depending on the deadline, exploration load and consumer demands.

“I’ve acquired so significantly about the course of action of litigation and how timelines normally improve from working day-to-working day dependent on motions, judge’s orders or new situations,” Rogers claimed.

Composing amicus briefs in law university and functioning independently with shoppers was an extraordinary finding out opportunity, mentioned Molly Connor, a 2021 IU McKinney graduate. Having participated in the clinic all through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Connor reported all course collaboration was donevia Zoom.

They submitted as amicus in Pranav Mishra v. Condition of Indiana, 20A-XP-1726, wherever Connor mentioned the appellate court in the end agreed with the clinic’s primary position, foremost to a reversal.

Molly Connor

“The prospect to do the mental gymnastics of how to make (an amicus transient) have a powerful argument in advance of the court in concert with six other law pupils and our professor, I believe which is a seriously special encounter,” she said.

The transferrable competencies IU McKinney graduate Chandler Clark of Lewis Kappes gleaned from functioning on amicus submitting in expungement cases – like managing significant volumes of material and speaking effectively with consumers – have been critical to his everyday authorized observe in the corporate transactional realm, even years later, he explained.

Filing amicus briefs taught Whitaker how to sympathize with purchasers and think critically about cases in a way that sitting down in a law faculty lecture corridor couldn’t.

“It created me want to be an advocate for adjust,” she reported.

Chandler Clark

For Rogers, the means to use concepts she’s learned in the classroom to real life circumstances as a law pupil has been “incredible.”

“I never believed I’d be capable to say that I worked on briefs that have been right before the Supreme Court — and did so during law university,” Rogers said. “It’s an honor to do the job on these superior-profile jobs, but even far more so, it’s an incredible possibility for expansion.”

The get the job done Indiana regulation students are executing with amicus submitting in advance of even stepping in the actual entire world of working towards regulation is vitally important, in accordance to Hagan.

“You are obtaining to make pretty precise, vital legal arguments in a extremely apparent way,” she said. “I think that provides a real obstacle for the learners. The sum of satisfaction that they have in their operate item, you just cannot set a cost on.”•


Supply connection