Trial and Appellate Advocacy
UMKC School of Law’s trial and appellate advocacy programs are part of a comprehensive effort to educate effective trial and appellate lawyers. Both trial and appellate advocacy are taught in sequenced courses that culminate in intraschool and interschool competitions.
The Appellate Advocacy sequence begins first, with Introduction to Law I in the first year, in which students write a brief and do an appellate argument. This course counts as Appellate Advocacy I, and is followed by Appellate Advocacy II in the fall of the second year. The Trial Advocacy sequence begins in the spring semester of the second year with Trial Advocacy I, which is a prerequisite for participation in the trial advocacy competitions.
Both our appellate and trial advocacy programs help prepare students to practice law. Students who complete our advocacy programs should be able to pick up a file of a case being litigated, organize it and present it before a court and a jury in a persuasive way. Similarly, if unsuccessful in the trial of a case, they will be prepared to present the case properly and persuasively before an appellate court.
Whether you have a desire to be a trial or appellate advocate, compete for your school, or merely want to overcome the fear of speaking in front of others, these courses are for you.
Appellate Advocacy Sequence
Appellate Advocacy II is a one-credit course that meets during the first half of the semester and culminates in student presentation of oral arguments. The course introduces students to a unique Missouri appellate process and students are required to write Points Relied On and a Summary of Argument (three-page total) on each side of a case set in the Missouri Supreme Court. They then argue the case twice (once on each side) in front of panels of lawyers. The arguments take place in the Jackson County Courthouse two Saturdays in October or early November.
The top 16 students in Appellate Advocacy II will be invited to participate in the Ellison Moot Court Competition (Appellate Advocacy III) in the winter semester. That two-hour course involves a problem set in the United States Supreme Court and requires that students write a full brief and argue before actual judges one Saturday in March or early April at the federal courthouse. Awards are given for the Top Oralist, Best Brief and Best Advocate Overall. In addition, the top six students from Appellate Advocacy III are chosen to be members of the National Moot Court Team (and to enroll in Appellate Advocacy IV, a 1-2 credit hour course) during the fall of their third year. All participants in Appellate Advocacy III are invited and expected to join the Moot Court Board.
Trial Advocacy Sequence
Trial Advocacy begins in the spring of the second year. Students enroll in Trial Advocacy I (two-credit-hour course), which involves one weekly large class presentation/demonstration and one small group session in which the skills learned are practiced. The class culminates in trials held at the courthouse in April. Any student who takes Trial Advocacy I and desires to do so may then enroll in Trial Advocacy II, which focuses more on strategy development and skill refinement, in the fall of the third year. Certain accelerated sections of Trial Advocacy II may be taken by students who have excelled in Trial Advocacy I and who are invited to enroll in those sections. Trial Advocacy II meets once per week and receives two credits. Full trials are conducted at the end of the semester. Members of the National Trial Teams are selected from those participating in the accelerated sections of Trial Advocacy II. They enroll in Trial Advocacy III and compete in regional and national trial competitions during the spring semester of the third year.