Advocacy is “the act of pleading for or actively supporting a cause or proposal.” Black’s Law Dictionary 64 (9th ed. 2009). At Savannah Law School, advocacy is integrated throughout all components of the Legal Skills & Professionalism Program. In the first year, students are exposed to the concept of advocacy from the very first semester. In LWRA I, students engage in the process of predictive writing by assessing the law in the context of a particular set of facts and making a prediction about the likely outcome. The concept of advocacy is more subtle in the first semester because students are not arguing for one side over another. Nonetheless, students are required to assess the merits of legal arguments, a process that must occur before a lawyer can “plead for or actively support[ any] cause or proposal.” Students are taught predictive writing as a precursor to advocacy and persuasive writing.
During LRWA II, students transition into persuasive writing and oral advocacy. This semester introduces students to the basics of persuasion and advanced reasoning techniques like narrative and policy-based reasoning. Students are also exposed to rhetoric and the art of effective persuasion. The semester culminates in the preparation of a written appellate brief and oral argument. This oral argument serves as the audition for the Savannah Law School Moot Court Honors Board. Throughout this second semester of law school, students are challenged to advocate opposing positions on a single problem. They are also introduced to team advocacy by co-authoring a brief and presenting oral argument in teams of two.
After the first year, students will be permitted to choose from a variety of electives to further specialize their advocacy training. Those courses include:
- Pretrial Practice & Procedure
- Transactional Drafting
- Advanced Appellate Advocacy
- Client Interviewing & Counseling
Each of these upper-division courses offers training in the advocacy style unique to each subject area. For example, pretrial practice and procedure focuses on advocacy through discovery practice as well as motion preparation and argument at the trial level. Transactional drafting, on the other hand, exposes students to the art of brokering and negotiating favorable terms vis-à-vis a client’s position. Each course is designed to offer students practical experience with clients, document preparation and filing conventions, and oral advocacy.
Competitive Advocacy Program
Beginning in 2013, the Savannah Law School advocacy program will be comprised of teams competing in intramural and interscholastic competitions in a variety of areas. Initially, Savannah Law School will concentrate its resources on developing strong and competitive moot court and trial teams. As the student body grows, the advocacy program will develop to include teams that will compete in negotiation, client interviewing and counseling, and alternative dispute resolution competitions.
The Moot Court program will offer students the opportunity to advance their skills in appellate brief writing and appellate oral advocacy. Students will be invited to the Moot Court Honors Board at the end of the first year after presenting their oral arguments in LWRA II. Members of the Board will represent Savannah Law School at competitions around the nation. A moot court competition typically requires students, in teams of two or three, to prepare an appellate brief over a three – five week period and travel to the competition to present oral arguments in the same case. Teams are usually assigned to represent one party in the writing phase of the competition, but teams argue on behalf of both parties at the oral advocacy phase. Writing and oral advocacy are equally emphasized in moot court.
The Mock Trial program provides students the opportunity to practice advocacy at the trial level in both a criminal and civil context. Team members will be selected after an audition process and will be given the opportunity to compete around the nation. Trial team competitions provide students the opportunity to make opening and closing statements, conduct direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and make evidentiary objections and trial motions. Members are afforded the opportunity to participate as both advocates and witnesses for the Mock Trial program. Oral advocacy is the primary focus of Mock Trial, and there is a strong emphasis on knowledge of evidentiary rules. Writing is a secondary focus.