The Catholic University of America



Waiting to argue: six students ready themselves to present before judges looking for logic, command of the facts and persuasive articulation.

First Year Students's Courtroom Skills are Tested

All members of the Columbus School of Law's first-year class presented 10-minute appellate arguments over the weekend of April 3-4 before three-judge panels drawn from CUA's alumni ranks. More than 100 alumni generously donated their time and expertise to listen to and critique students' oral advocacy during the Lawyering Skills Program's capstone event.

Students worked with the same hypothetical fact pattern throughout the spring semester, representing clients from Complaint filing, followed by dispositive motions, and, ultimately, appeal of the trial court decisions on those motions. This year's problems involved diverse legal issues: the burden of proof in Age Discrimination in Employment Act cases (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., argued March 31 before the U.S. Supreme Court), and lawyers' ethical obligations to maintain client confidences in the context of a motion to disqualify opposing counsel.


Left: James F. McKeown, 1970, who donated the law school's second floor corridor,
served as a panel judge along with CUA Professor Stephen Goldman, right.

Alumni judges ranged from 2008 graduates just beginning their legal careers to distinguished practitioners with 30 or more years' experience in government, private practice, and nonprofit settings. Many CUA law graduates return every year to participate in the LSP arguments, serving on panels with their former law school classmates. This year, alumni were joined as judges by CUA law professors Sylvia Bacon, Steve Goldman, Lisa Martin, Mike McGonnigal, and Leah Wortham. Three members of the D.C. Office of Bar Counsel, including CUA alumna Sarah Bromberg Walshe, also served as judges.